The only serious
questions are whether the pro leagues will wait until the kid is 18 (Gretzky
turned 17 on Jan. 26) and how long and how lucrative his contract will be.
Birmingham owner John Bassett, notorious for signing underage Juniors
(Linseman, for one), has already waited nine years. He was an executive with
CFTO television when he saw Gretzky play in a tournament among 8-year-olds.
like to play one more year at the Soo for his $75 a week. "After that, I
think I'd be bored," he admits. "Mentally, I'm ready for the pros right
now, but physically I'm not."
The kid is
putting on a show for the home crowd. He scores five points as the Greyhounds
beat Peterborough 6-3, avenging the previous week's road loss.
Sam Turco hollers
with glee and goes into an ice dance, pumping his right elbow and his right
knee. "Trouble with hockey today," yells Sam over the noise of the
crowd, "is nobody has any fun out there on the ice. Too professional. All
these guys want to do is make money. That darn kid has fun, now, don't he?"
Rap, rap. "I been here in this seat 30 years, and he stands alone. Yessir.
Stands alone. Don't he, Bert! Hee-haw-haw. Don't he!" Rap, rap. "I'm
going to have the kid over for a home-cooked dinner some night, and what more
can you say about a person than you'd like to have him eat under your own roof.
He stands alone, that one."
All the village
came and feasted,
All the guests praised Hiawatha,
Called him Strong-Heart, Soan-go-taha!
Called him Loon-Heart, Mahn-go-taysee!