"Swedes aren’t chicken anymore," defenceman Calle Rosén said at the outset of Toronto Maple Leafs training camp, in a nod to a dusty narrative from days gone by.

It may be a much different-looking NHL than when Borje Salming first crossed the Atlantic 40 years ago – subjecting himself to a litany of physical challenges in the process – but the institutional memory of that period remains for some today.

Rosén summoned the outdated stereotype without any prompting. He figures the best avenue to cracking the Leafs lineup is proving that he’s a little meaner than his 10 penalty minutes in 41 Swedish Hockey League games last season suggest.

So, how do you become meaner?

"Start cross-checking guys," said Rosén. Even if it’s illegal? "Yeah, but you can do it when the ref’s not looking."

Teammate Andreas Borgman has opted to show his brawn in a more traditional fashion. He’s already delivered a couple huge body checks in his two pre-season appearances – the first he’s played on North American soil.

One of them led directly to his first career fight, when Ottawa Senators forward Mike Blunden took issue with an open-ice hit on Tuesday night.

"I’m trying to hit a lot out there so I kind of expected it," said Borgman. "At some point someone was going to try and fight me. I was just trying to be calm. Just like ‘Yeah, OK, let’s go.’ Get it over with.

"So now I’ve done the first fight – get rid of that."