Ten best athletes - He might not have lifted the Stanley Cup, or even played in the National Hockey League, but to a legion of hockey fans old enough to remember his unmatched skill, George Faulkner remains a local legend, our Gordie Howe.
Skilled enough to play as a forward, but peerless from his blueline perch, Faulkner still carries the unofficial claim as Newfoundland's greatest hockey player, overseer of the ice throne.
And now, more than three decades since he last donned a provincial senior hockey uniform, Faulkner is the recipient of yet another distinction, the No. 1 spot on The Telegram's list of Newfoundland and Labrador's greatest athletes.
"I've never seen a player in any league, American Hockey League included, who could control a game like George Faulkner," said the late, great VOCM broadcaster George McLaren in a 1994 Telegram feature, when Faulkner polled the top spot among this province's hockey players.
Unlike his brother, Alex, the No. 3 athlete on our all-time list, or current NHLers Dan Cleary and Michael Ryder, who hold the six and 10 spots on The Tely's top 10 roster, Faulkner never did scale to hockey's highest heights.
His is the pre-eminent "wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time" story.
Faulkner was a 15-year-old rookie from nearby Bishop's Falls when he broke into the Grand Falls senior league. Along the way, someone from from the mainland took notice and the young phenom, whose talent was born on the Exploits River, joined the junior Quebec Citadelles of the Ontario Hockey Association for the 1953-54 season. The invite came less than six months after he helped the Grand Falls Cataracts win the 1953 Herder Memorial Trophy.
The Citadelles were the only Quebec-based team in the nine-team OHA, and it didn't take long for the Montreal Canadiens to spy the shy, young Newfoundlander.
Faulkner was invited to the Canadiens' 1954 training camp, the first of three straight fall visits to Montreal where he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau and Doug Harvey. Each time, he was optioned to Shawinigan Falls of the old Quebec Pro league.
But not before he'd skate on a line with the Rocket and Kenny Mosdell in scrimmages.
The Canadiens, coming off a Stanley Cup championship in '53, were in the process of building a powerhouse, one which would win five straight Cups beginning in '56, a dynasty that's among the top three or four of all-time.
Cracking that lineup was akin to unlocking Fort Knox.
For the next four years, skating as a forward, Faulkner averaged almost a point per game for the Cataracts, playing with future NHLers like Claude Provost, Jean-Guy Talbot, Bob Turner, Charlie Hodge, Junior Langlois, Reggie Fleming and Andre Pronovost.
Faulkner returned home for good following the 1957-58 hockey season.
A new team had arrived on the provincial senior hockey scene, one put together by a man who would become the premier of Newfoundland.
Frank Moores was calling the team the Conception Bay CeeBees and George Faulkner was its first player-coach.
In Harbour Grace, Faulkner would make the move back to the blueline to become the prototypical quarterback, before that football term was ever used to describe a hockey player.
He was joined by his younger brother, who two years later would dress for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Conception Bay made quite a mark that first season, marching all the way to the Herder final, where it lost to Grand Falls in a five-game series.
But the CeeBees rebounded to win the next two Newfoundland senior hockey championships, beginning in 1960, and George Faulkner was the glue which held Conception Bay together.
There were workhorses back in the day, Hall of Famers like Harold Stanley and Harry Katrynuk and "Toy Toy" Gallant.
And then there was George Faulkner.
Legend has it Faulkner would log upwards of 50 minutes a game.
In fact, there were times he'd play all 60 minutes, his only break coming if he was nabbed for a penalty, which was a rarity.
Of the nine Herders and stint in the Canadiens' farm system, Faulkner's defining moment actually came in 1966 and the world hockey championship in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia.
Hand-picked from the Newfoundland senior ranks by Fr. David Bauer, proprietor of Canada's men's national team, Faulkner joined Canada and led the team in scoring with seven goals and 10 points in seven games as Canada won the bronze medal.
The Canadian roster had no less than eight players who would go on to the NHL.
The performance is especially impressive given the fact Faulkner was skating against the best of the best the Soviets - in the midst of a nine-year gold-medal run - and Czechoslovakians could dress.
Now 74 and a member of the Newfoundland Sports and Newfoundland Hockey Halls of Fame, Faulkner still enjoys lacing up the skates. And he still has that smooth stride.
The one that's carried him all the way to No. 1.
1. George Faulkner
2. Brad Gushue
3. Alex Faulkner
4. Rod Snow
5. Carl English
6. Daniel Cleary
7. Frank Humber
8. Paul McCloy
9. Colin Abbott
10. Michael Ryder
The object: To select the 10 best athletes Newfoundland and Labrador has produced. Seven prominent individuals with an impressive sports background, together with Robin Short, Brendan McCarthy and John Browne of The Telegram's sports department, were chosen to make the selections.
The criteria: Athletes must have been born in Newfoundland and Labrador and spent a large part of their development years within the province. The field was open to amateur and professional, and male and female athletes.
The selection panel
John McGrath: A former Newfoundland soccer president, McGrath is chairman of the board of governors for the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame.
Brian Brocklehurst: A two-sport star in St. John's during the late 1960s and '70s, Brocklehurst was the 1969 St. John's athlete of the year.
Don Johnson: A former president of both the Canadian and Newfoundland amateur hockey associations, Johnson was also head of the St. John's Senior Men's Softball League and Royal St. John's Regatta Committee. He has served on the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and Canada Games Council.
Roger Grimes: Otherwise known as a former premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, those in sports know him as an erstwhile Grand Falls Cataracts senior hockey player and Grand Falls Beothuks senior baseball player.
Terry Hart: Another Grand Falls-Windsor native, Hart has broadcasted local sports for over 30 years. He continues in radio today at VOCM.
Glenn Stanford: He's known most recently as the man who ran the St. John's Maple Leafs for 14 seasons. But before that, Stanford was a two-sport star - basketball and soccer - with Holy Cross and Memorial.
Alan (Tex) Seaborn: Seaborn has had a long-standing involvement with the Corner Brook and Newfoundland baseball associations. He served as vice-chairman and vice-president of sport for the 1999 Canada Winter Games in Corner Brook.