by Tobias Stark
Vol. 8 2017, pages 163–196
Published November 28, 2017
From ‘fucking Sami’ to ‘the King’: Börje Salming, NHL, and the Swedish Model
This paper deals with former Toronto Maple Leafs and Team Sweden great Börje Salming’s role as a trailblazer for the migration of Swedish ice hockey players to the NHL. Ultimately, the aim is to shed light on the transformation of the Swedish (sports) model at the turn of the 21st century. Drawing on a wide range of archival material and media sources – including club records, newspapers, autobiographical accounts and interviews – it is argued that Salming’s stellar NHL-career not only paved the way for generations of his countrymen by working to dispel the North American myth that Scandinavian players were soft and fragile, as it is commonly asserted, but helped transform the Swedish national identity and hegemonic ice hockey masculinity as well. Theoretically, the paper is grounded in media researcher Garry Whannel’s work on media sport stars, and the notion of stardom as “a form of social production in which the professional ideologies and production practices of the media aim to win and hold our attention by linking sporting achievement and personality in ways which have resonance in popular common sense”.
About the Author
TOBIAS STARK is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sport Sciences at Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden. He is the author of Folkhemmet på is: Ishockey, modernisering och nationell identitet i Sverige 1920-1972 [The Welfare State On Ice: Ice Hockey, Modernization and National Identity in Sweden 1920-1972] (2010), as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles on Swedish and International ice Hockey.