Salming supports Sundin

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Gloebtrotting Borje Salming bade farewell to Mats Sundin this week, knowing next time they meet they will have switched places on the Maple Leafs career points list.

Sundin is seven points behind the National Hockey League's pioneer Swede, whose 759 points have not been challenged since he departed Toronto in 1989.

"That's okay, if it's Sundin, it's fine with me," Salming said on Sunday when the NHL Legends tour stopped by the Air Canada Centre. "He's a great player."

Salming played 15 years in a Leafs sweater, while Sundin will catch him in just nine. But Salming, who still is in tip-top shape at age 54, says points will be just part of the Sundin legacy in Toronto.

"I'm just happy that he's the captain of the Leafs," Salming said of the job he was offered by Harold Ballard and turned down to his lasting regret.

"He was my idol growing up," Sundin said. "That's exciting about the (points chase), but I don't really think about those kinds of things."

Where Salming absorbed the punishment of NHLers bent on breaking the "chicken Swede" -- making the all-star team six times -- Sundin proved a Scandinavian could be a successful captain. In addition to leading the Leafs in scoring all but one season, Sundin was the template for Daniel Alfredsson in Ottawa, Markus Naslund in Vancouver and briefly, Kenny Jonsson on Long Island.

Salming's Stockholm-based underwear business has branched out to include swimwear, athletic bags and his new venture, Salming Sport hockey equipment. He outfitted the Canadian and Russian legends teams in the gear.

"It's coming to (the rest of Canada) any day now," Sundin said, displaying the black and neon green logo.

Sundin is not the only Swedish Leaf whom Salming is monitoring. Rookies Alex Steen and Staffan Kronwall are on the team and Mikael Tellqvist is the backup goaltender.

"I've seen (Steen) play in Sweden and I know he has the potential to be a great player," Salming said. "He's almost like his dad."

Salming, who thrived in open ice, is a fan of the new NHL, which he said showcases skill and physical play.

"It's a shorter neutral zone so you're getting more contact," Salming said.

"You've got to skate more and take the body more. In my day, there was Chicago (Stadium) and Boston (Garden), it was really close (quarters) and it was really good hockey."


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