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Borje Salming TV Series Filming Throughout Ontario

A TV series looking at Borje Salming's upbringing and Hall of Fame NHL career is currently scheduled to film across Ontario and be released next year.
Borje Salming

Update: Borje Salming has died at 71 years old, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced on Nov. 24. This story was originally published five days before his passing, on Nov. 19. We extend our condolences to Salming's family, friends, teammates and fans.

The legend of Toronto Maple Leafs and Swedish hockey icon Borje Salming had another emotional chapter added to it this past week. 

The Hockey Hall of Famer and European hockey pioneer returned to his second home of Toronto for what had been an annual trip back to North America and was showing the devastating effects of the neurological affliction known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which he was diagnosed with this year. But Salming’s story is far deeper than that – and because of that, a new dramatic TV production of his life is currently in production in Sweden and Canada.

The new Salming story, which is being produced by Swedish-based streaming service Viaplay, is covering his early life, when he grew up without a father in the wilds of northern Sweden, having lost his in a mine accident when Salming was only five years old. 

Series creator and director Amir Chamdin, who won the Best Series Award for Best Series for his original series Partisan at CannesSeries in 2020, was born and raised in Sweden during Salming’s prime as a player. As such, Chamdin is well-aware of the cultural impact Salming has had on the game, both in his homeland and across the rest of the hockey world.

Salming’s determination and toughness paved the way for all European players that followed him, but as Chamdin learned more about Salming, he noticed the on-ice superstar was a humble, genuine, sincere person off the ice. He was not about the hype at all. Though the shadow Salming’s playing talent cast was imposing, the true story of Salming’s background and rise to fame was equally impressive.

“As a kid, I remember Borje coming home from his tour of the NHL, and he played for my team in Sweden, AIK (IF), so that guy coming home…we were really proud,” Samdin told on Nov. 18, in the midst of filming the series. “But as you look back at his life and get to know who he is, it kind of struck me that he’s not that star person I saw as a kid. He’s humble, he’s down-to-earth. He was incredibly talented as a player, but the person he was off the ice – that’s what people love about him. Act like you are and are like you act. That’s him. He’ll shake anyone’s hand, look them in the eye and have a conversation. He engages very well with people, and I think they appreciate him for that.”

The most recognizable (in North America, anyhow) name attached to the Salming Viaplay project is Canadian actor Jason Priestley, who portrays former Leafs executive Gerry McNamara, the hockey man who discovered Salming and fellow Swedish star Inge Hammarström and helped launch their North American careers. 

Meticulous attention is being paid to every detail of filming. Canadian hockey stick manufacturer Roustan Hockey was hired by the Salming series producers to craft custom-made sticks to be used in the series (Roustan Hockey owner W. Graeme Roustan also owns The Hockey News). 

Filming has been scheduled throughout Ontario, including in Kitchener (where the Ontario League’s Auditorium is doubling for historic Maple Leaf Gardens), Niagara Falls, and Toronto.

That said, there’s been one constant, no matter where Chamdin’s cameras travel.

“Everywhere we shoot (the series in Canada), everyone has a Borje story, or a Leafs story,” Chamdin said before elaborating on the defenseman’s upbringing as another example of Salming’s innate intrigue. “You also have to remember that Borje, he comes from up, up north in Sweden. He’s got that Sami heritage. He was in another country, having to learn the language and raise a family and still be an elite player. He was breaking many barriers in his career. So this is an underdog story.”

Indeed, Salming is the most famous person with Sami heritage, beating the odds to have a global impact on the sport. He played more than 1,148 regular-season games for the Maple Leafs across 16 NHL seasons (1973 to 1989), amassing 150 goals and 787 points. In 2017, he was named one of the NHL’s 100 greatest NHL players, and he was the first Swedish player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

The Viaplay series will not focus on Salming’s health problems, limiting the scope to his NHL career and the lead-up to it. But there’s no shortage of dramatic material in Salming’s life.

He’s been a fighter from his earliest days, which is why this biopic is bound to be a hit in Sweden, Canada and beyond after it’s released for streaming next year. People from both the generations Salming thrived in, and current generations, will be drawn to the Viaplay series and create a sizeable audience for Chamdin’s depiction of Salming’s trials and triumphs. 

Salming mesmerized hockey fans, but the human being behind the Salming mythology had just as huge an imprint on his communities, and that will be reflected in the series.

“He’s not that guy, that hype,” Chamdin said, summing up the blue-collar mentality of the superstar athlete. “He’s your neighbor, he’s your friend, he’s the common guy you come across in the world every day. Everybody feels like, ‘Hey, he’s one of us.’ Borje came from nothing and became something. He’s very inspiring to me, and I think, to a lot of people.” 


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