Tommy Salo will always be known as the goalkeeper who won the gold medal for Sweden at the Lillehammer Olympics in 1994. He was born in the industrial town of Sjurhammer on February 1, 1971 and made his debut in the international arena at the 1991 World Junior Championship. From the beginning, Salo was noticed not only for his physical strength and quick reaction time but also for his tremendous stamina.
As the best rookie in the IHL, Salo joined the New York Islanders in the 1994-95 season, beating out his compatriot Tommy Soderstrom and Canadian Eric Fichaud for the top spot. Islanders coach Mike Milbury pinned his hopes on the quiet Salo, and he wasn't disappointed. Salo successfully defended the Islanders' net and played for Sweden in the World Championship whenever the Islanders didn't make it to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Salo got to go to Nagano in 1998, but, despite the fact that he played a good game, Sweden lost in the quarterfinals to their long-time rival, Finland.
Another goalkeeper might have lost heart and given up, but not Salo. He proved it that very same season at the 1998 World Championship in Switzerland, helping Sweden win the gold. To this he added the bronze at the 1999 World Championship in Norway, showing once again that he was a superior goaltender.
After the Oilers were eliminated in the first round of the 2000 Stanley Cup playoffs, Salo once again represented his homeland at the World Championships. Although his style may be unconventional, Salo established a career high in wins with 36 during the 2000-01 season and yet again represented his homeland later that spring at the World Championships.
The distinctive quality of Salo's career has been the consistency of his playing. Following a 36-win season the previous year, Salo was a work horse once again for the young Oilers in 2001-02. Another 30-win season, a third trip to the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and his fifth appearance at the World Championships, Salo has played his share hockey since his arrival in Edmonton and continued his strong play throughout the 2002-03 season.
The 2003-04 season would be Salo's last season with the Oilers, after he was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche at the trading deadline. After ten seasons in the NHL, Salo opted to return overseas in 2004-05.