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'LEARNED IN ALL THE LORE OF OLD MEN'
E. M. Swift
February 20, 1978
Hiawatha was Sault Ste. Marie's first legend, but nowadays the town hero is a teen-aged hockey phenom named Wayne Gretzky, who plays with a maturity far beyond his years
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February 20, 1978

'learned In All The Lore Of Old Men'

Hiawatha was Sault Ste. Marie's first legend, but nowadays the town hero is a teen-aged hockey phenom named Wayne Gretzky, who plays with a maturity far beyond his years

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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.

Gretzky would 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!

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