It's Wayne Gretzky in an ice slide for Associated Press male athlete of the year--the first professional hockey player to win in the award's 51 years.

Edmonton's Gretzky, at 21 the NHL's dominant player for four years now, does have a lot of hockey players for company as holders of the AP citation--the 1980 U.S. Olympic team won it en masse. But as man of the year 1982, he stands alone: 39 media votes to eight for runner-up Jimmy Connors of tennis.

But Gretzky says he stands for all NHL players: "I'm just one player of 400 or so who has to do a job to help promote hockey, help set an example, an image for the younger kids . . . So I just try to live up to my one-400th of the responsibility" . . .

And Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, just might get to see him play, in the flesh, next season. Saskatoon (pop. 150,000), which hoped to spirit away Washington's Capitals during last summer's crisis, has a bid in for the St. Louis franchise--and the Blues' owner, Ralston-Purina Co., citing dwindling attendance and dearth of St. Louis investors, is receptive.

Bill Hunter of Batoni-Hunter Enterprises Ltd. in Saskatoon and Emile Francis, Blues' chief executive, have begun sale negotiations. Saskatoon doesn't even have a place to play. No problem, say officials of the burg. They'll provide land and a tax moratorium; Batoni-Hunter says it could get an 18,000-seat arena built for 1983-84 season.