Borje Salming Miniseries Director Talks NHL Great

In a TV sports world filled with athletes, Swedish director Amir Chamdin sees Borje Salming — the late Hall of Fame defenseman who paved the way for Europeans into the National Hockey League when he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1973 – as the perfect role model worthy of a pedestal for his humility and devotion to family.

“I saw this tough guy. In fact, he’s the most humble guy I ever met. He’s a sweetheart… He’s a King in how he treated people,” Chamdin tells The Hollywood Reporter of first meeting Salming in a Stockholm café to discuss making Borje: The Journey of a Legend, a six-part drama for Scandinavian streamer Viaplay that will bow in the U.S. on May 2 after earlier premieres in Sweden and Canada.

Valter Skarsgård plays Salming as first a struggling pro hockey player in small town Sweden, before he was discovered by legendary scout Gerry McNamara, played by Jason Priestley, and asked to play in the NHL’s treacherous and violent 1970s era.

Salming spent 16 years in pro hockey (1973-1989), and mostly with the Maple Leafs as he refused for years to be traded to another team and city for better pay and Stanley Cup championship prospects until late in his career. Salming had wanted to keep his young family, led by wife Margitta, together and settled in their new Canadian home.

“Everybody knows, (pro athletes) are going to play for one team and then they switch you to another team. He said no, I need to stay in Toronto because my family is here,” Chamdin explained.

Salming’s reputation for hard nosed perseverance returned in 2022 when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig´s disease, and died soon after receiving an emotional tribute at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. “It started with (Borje) saying he had something in his throat while we were on a plane,” Chamdin remembered.

Salming saw a doctor and rang the director. “It’s bad. Don’t tell anybody, but it’s bad,” Chamdin was told. Despite his illness, the director worked closely with Salming as he showed him unedited outtakes as they had yet to begin editing the drama in post production.

Börje – The Journey of a Legend

Jenny Unnegård

“He laughed. ‘Is this our scenes, what is this?’ he asked, because he loved humor,” Chamdin said of Salming at the time. Before he died at age 71 years in Nov. 2022, Salming, fighting paralysis, boarded a flight to Toronto for a Hockey Night in Canada pre-game tribute. “I’m just glad he got that respect and he could see the love everybody had for him,” Chamdin recounted.

After Viaplay’s Borje: The Journey of a Legend premieres on May 2, additional episodes will be added on May 9 and May 16. Filmed in Sweden, Mexico and Canada, the miniseries also stars Hedda Stiernstedt, A.C. Peterson, Oscar Skagerberg and Pelle Holmström. Johanna Wennerberg at Warner Bros. ITVP Sweden produced the series.

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