Why do you think Swedes are so good at hockey? (Why have so many Swedish hockey players made it to professional American and Canadian teams?)
We have great youth activities with educated trainers. We are also good at communicating and negotiating with our youths. When Swedish ice hockey players demonstrated an excellent job and proved that they belonged in the NHL, Americans and Canadians started taking an interest in Swedish players by sending scouts to Sweden in search of new talents.
During your career, you have had lots of injuries, some caused by fights on the ice rink. Were you a rowdy guy?
No I wouldn’t say so. Ice hockey is a physical, and quite brutal, sport and sometimes I would find myself in situations where I had to protect myself. The ice hockey culture back then was brutal, including hooligans and people in the audience, who would cheer on during fights.
You have been awarded many times during your career, is there an award that you are specifically proud of?
I’m proud of being the first Swedish hockey player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The banner, which features my name and picture, will always be there. They also raised a statue of me outside the center. I’m very proud of that.
When your tribute flag, hanging in the Air Canada Centre, was replaced, the old one was brought to Matojärvi ice rink in Kiruna. How did that feel?
It was an honor! A delegation from Toronto Maple Leafs personally delivered the banner. I was moved by the fact that Toronto chose to donate the banner to Kiruna. They consider where their players got their start, even if its small teams.
Speaking about hometowns, what does Kiruna and Lappland mean to you?
My home town means a lot to me. Throughout my career I always maintained a close tie with Kiruna and Lappland. It felt like a calling; I would go home over the summer, fish and hunt. I longed for my family/relatives, especially my grandfather (my fathers-father). I currently live in Stockholm, but I visit my hometown as often as I can. I also speak to my 90-year-old mother Karin, who lives in Kiruna, at least three times a week.
You have released three cookbooks; Vilt med Salming, Grilla med Salming and Skärgårdsmat med Salming, including food from the archipelago and the wild. Who taught you how to cook?
I taught myself how to cook. I had to learn once I left home. I’m not a gourmet cook, but I enjoy cooking basic foods. When I lived in Canada I did a lot of barbecuing and when I had a summer house in Vaxholm, outside of Stockholm, I learned to appreciate archipelagic food. I also enjoy hunting and fishing. My wife and I cook a lot together.