Posted on May 24 2017
For Salming the ancient powers of the Laplandic culture and mysticism are the essence of who he is and always will be - the backbone of his heart, mind and soul. It is within this scenery his heritage lies; this is where the wind is blowing like it has ever blown before and this is where Salming finds his freedom. The woods and a tiny cottage are his sanctuary, his escape from the city's frenetic activity. We who have watched Salming from afar see the Laplander that conquered the world of Ice Hockey and became a Hall Of Famer…
We've all been rookies
"During his very first days in Gävle, Sweden, in the early 70's, as a rookie playing for Brynäs IF, his team mates went on a biking odyssey on the countryside. The team made a practical joke; they gave rookie Salming a different route to bike - a route that was 100 kilometers longer than the one the other guys biked. No questions asked; Salming took that trip. He got back to the locker room. He did not say a word, just took a shower. The very next day, Salming took the same trip again. Alone. Voluntarily…"
You play and you play hard
The Sami culture has always found energy and a peace of mind in living close to the wild and untamed nature. The Sami have embraced all the difficulties and survived - to quit or surrender was never an option. This is the culture from which Salming descends. Players all over the world who have encountered him on the ice could feel his Sami heritage in his attitude. You play and you play hard. No nonsense!
Salming was never an average-Joe on the ice. His heritage taught him to always deliver and never to quit - no matter the cost. Even at the cost of more than 500 stitches and a 50% loss of eyesight on one of his eyes; you go in there, cover that shot and get right back to it to make your team win. It is a survivor mentality. A one in a million attitude, yet a tangible brand value of a Sami-descendant…
There was only one way to go
It all started back home in Kiruna, a small town above the Arctic Circle in Sweden. Named after an arctic bird, Kiruna is famous for its iron ore mines between the mountains Luossavaara and Kiirunavaara. This is where Salming started to play hockey and followed in the steps of his older brother Stig. This is where the Salming brothers made huge impressions on bigger hockey clubs that took them to the Swedish Elite League. Salming signed with Brynäs IF in 1970 and won the league championship in 1971 and 1972. In the midst of this success, the Swedish national team also called for the services of the future Hall of Famer.
Later that year, at Christmas time, Salming was approached by Maple Leafs' scout Gerry McNamara. He thought that the only league for Salming to play in was the National Hockey League. Börje said yes to that convincing scout that later would be the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Until this day, Mr. McNamaras quote still reminds us of what yet to come: "We did not realize until he got here how special Salming was…"
A Laplandic power symbol
The rest is history. The Laplander faced all the challenges he met during his 17 years with the NHL. Salming bridged ways for upcoming European hockey players. He had shown the Canadians the Sami-mentality over and over again, stating "if it doesn't kill you, it hardens you". In Canada Cup 1976, the crowd gave him a standing ovation that lasted a lifetime. Back in Sweden, people were in awe over what they had just witnessed on the television. Salming became the symbol of the power of the Laplandic culture and mysticism. When Salming summed up his career in 1992 the list was very long. He played at the highest possible level during the 70's, 80's and early 90's. 1148 regular NHL-games rendered 150 goals and 637 assists, giving a total of 787 points and six NHL All-Star Team appearances. In Canada Cup in 1976 he was elected an all-star. In Albertville Olympics in 1992, at the age of 41, he scored the most points in the Swedish national team and the most points of all defense players of all the countries playing. In 1996, as the first Swedish player, Salming got initiated in the Hockey Hall of Fame. A long journey came to closure; from Lapland to the Hockey Hall of Fame headquarters in Toronto. From the small backyard rinks of Kiruna, Sweden, to the greatest arena in the world for a hockey player…
Today, as a businessman, Salming still makes use of his heritage and of his experience from 17 seasons in the toughest league of them all, NHL, with values that he was brought up to stand by and live with. That is who he is. Quality not served on a silver platter, but on a Sami wood tray carved in with sweat and blood. The essence of pure nature quality lies within all Salming products. As a hockey player he took all the low shots with his body and left the high shots for Maple Leafs goalies. That is who he was on the ice. That instinct, that drive, that power of Sami heritage made Salming the "go-to guy" when the tough got going, and a legend in Canada and Sweden from here to eternity…