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Blasts from the Past

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Jetstream interviews Jimmy Mann
By Gary Olinkin

Question: At the draft did you expect to be drafted in the first round? And did the selection to the Jets surprise you?
Mann: During my last year with Sherbrooke, last Christmas I believe, there was talk of me being drafted in the first round, by my lawyer, Mr. Kaplan. Near the end of last season they started talking of allowing underage players in the draft and instead being drafted 13th or 15th. I was figuring more for the second round. I wanted to be drafted in the first round and especially by an expansion team, where I'd have a good chance of making the team in my first year. I met Mr. Ferguson and when we talked, I think it was at the Memorial Cup, he told me that if I was around when the Jets turn came, I'd be wearing a Jets sweater this season. On the day of the draft I just waited and wondered. Then a reporter telephoned and said "Congratulations Jim you've been selected 19th, in the first round, by the Winnipeg Jets." Actually I was surprised and not surprised, for I wasn't sure. But in all I was very happy and I'm glad I'm in Winnipeg this year.

Question: If the Jets did not draft you, who would you have been expected to be drafted by?
Mann: Well, I really don't know. The team that showed the most interest in me was Mr. Ferguson and the Jets. During last year in the Quebec Junior League they picked on Sherbrooke quite a bit, and through my actions I was busy in court at times. But, Mr. Ferguson sent me a telegram and told me to go out and play my game, so really the Jets were the team in my mind for they were interested and showed it, so I really had no idea who would have taken me.

Question: If you could have selected any of the other 20 teams, what team would it have been?
Mann: I never really thought about it. As far as I was concerned the Jets showed interest and that's where I wanted to be. I wanted to be with a team I could help and I'm glad I'm here with the Jets.

Question: What was expected of you by the Jets?
Mann: Well I'm not a 50 goal scorer and my scoring will eventually fall into place. But, Mr. Ferguson and the coaches expected my aggressive play. We don't have a big team and the smaller guys have to looked after. They want me for hitting, in the corners and play good physical hockey. I was brought up as an aggressive player and that's what they want out of me.

Question: Coming into the season, some people were speculating that Jimmy Mann would replace Kim Clackson as team Policeman or Tough-guy. Would you comment on that?
Mann: I did some thinking about that during the summer for I knew some fans would be thinking of that. I never knew Kim, but I heard of his style and the way he played here. I basically just wanted to go out and do my job and play the game the way I've always have. I don't really consider myself as a team policeman, but UI do feel that if some one small like Peter Sullivan is being roughed up, next time they have to come through someone like myself. I'm looking out for the small guys, it's part of my job out there. I don't like to see them get a cheap-shot.

Question: Jim, tell us about your early life up to your days in Junior Hockey?
Mann: I was born in Montreal, but I grew up in a suburb of Montreal, Verdun, Quebec. I played all of my hockey from a kid to and including my first year of Junior in Verdun. Some moments I remember was going to Russia for a tournament when I played Midget. I was a member of the Quebec team which one the Wrigley Tournament. In that tournament, I was Bantam age, but they called me up and it was in Oshawa and the team won it. Then I started me Junior in Laval and was traded to Sherbrooke.

Question: Tell us about those Junior days?
Mann: I played my first year in Laval and the best thing that happened that year was being traded to Sherbrooke. In Sherbrooke we went to the Memorial Cup in 76-77. The paper here early this season said I was on the winning team, we went, but we didn't win. I just wanted to clarify that. We won the Quebec Junior League Championship and represented the QMJHL. We went to Vancouver to compete against the Ottawa 67's from the OHA, and the New Westminster Bruins from the WCHL.

Question: What was your style and reputation like in Junior?
Mann: When I came into Laval I just wanted to play. I'm not the fancy type of player, in fact when I started I really couldn't even skate and I'm not afraid to admit that. Since I've been in here in Winnipeg my skating has improved about 45% and I'm still working at it. As for Penalty Minutes, I was always over 200 minutes in Junior, and last year it was closing in on 300 minutes. I broke a record last year by scoring 4 hat-tricks in 8 games and 27 points in 12 games in last years play-offs and everything just fell into place. It's similar to this year, we hit players who have been in the NHL for years, and they say "Who's this rookie, what's he trying to prove, we have to fix him", this is not unusual and I think it will balance out eventually.

Question: Last year you had 35 goals and 82 points. You did work on your shooting accuracy I believe?
Mann: Yes, I did work on it last year, but I'd really have to credit my linemates who did help out too. Now this year it's back to square one again. I've had my scoring chances, but cant' seem to find the net. Mr. McVie and Mr. Sutherland have been working with me on my shot and soon it will pay off. I was a little surprised to score the 35 goals and it should have been a lot higher, but I never had hat-tricks before and that really surprised me. My first hat-trick was in Sherbrooke, at home, and it felt great, after that in the play-offs I had 4 more and that was just a real thrill. Then in the All-Star game in Ontario against New Westminster I had another one, so everything fell into place after the regular season and through the play-offs.

Question: With your aggressive style, did you try to pattern yourself to someone or is it "Mann-made"?
Mann: It's definitely Mann-made. In coming up even from Bantam to Midget to Junior to Pro, you cannot change styles. I never tried to pattern myself to anyone. I could not compare myself to say John Ferguson. He had his way of playing when he was with the Canadiens and I have my own way. We may compare in some ways, but I've set myself up to play the way Jimmy Mann wants Jimmy Mann to play and really I wouldn't like to play against Mr. Ferguson. I watched him play and he was a hard worker in the corners and took no guff from anybody. As I said I play my style and he played his.

Question: Your not afraid of going into the corners?
Mann: No way. I wouldn't be here if I didn't dig into the corners and play rough, try to dig out the puck and throw the body as I do.

Question: The NHL Scouting report on you reads, "good attitude, mature, comes to play". Your comments on those words?
Mann: I always come to play. I want to win. I don't say much on the outside, but inside I don't like losing. As for my attitude, the name of the game is winning and what ever we have to do to win I'll do it. I come to play every night. If I only get 4 shifts or a dozen shifts, I try to do what I can while I'm out there. When I don't dress it's disappointing but I'm 20 years old and if I'm not out there, I still cheer the team on morally, and when I'm back playing I just go from there.

Question: Have you ever backed down from a challenge?
Mann: No, there's just no way, for inside it would hurt me and later it would bother me. If anyone comes and tries to hit me I'll be ready or if someone wants to fight my gloves will be down just as fast as his will. As I said it would bother me for days if I did back down for I could be referred to as not being Winnipeg's rough, tough player. In the Philadelphia game, Bob Kelly and myself squared off and nothing became of it except for 2 minutes delay of game penalties. Bob is one of the tougher guys in the league and we hit together, but as experience goes he didn't want to make the first move and neither did I, now that's one way of getting hurt in a fight that first move is very important. We did in fact delay the game, but we both prevented injury to each other. There are calls against me that there are no way they should be called. In the game against the Dynamo team, I knew the guy was there and he hit me and I bumped him and he fell on my stick. I ended up with penalty and he got none. Something like that upsets me. Now in the Buffalo game here, Larry Playfair and myself had a fight. He hit me and I fell, I got up very fast and he threw his gloves in my face. I accepted his challenge, but don't forget he's a big kid and I knew that with me being left-handed I had somewhat of an advantage. He tried to grab my sweater with his right hand and that left my opening and I sure made it count. I know I left my mark on his face (nose). I've learned that if it's scoring a goal or fighting, try to get the first shot in.

Question: When Winnipeg was still W.H.A., they were intimidated by the goonish tactics of the Birmingham Bulls and I know that a few people were looking at Jimmy Mann as the Jets so-called Goon. How do you feel about the Goon Tag?
Mann: I hate the word GOON! I think a goon is a guy with no hockey ability and is out to injury someone else. Now I play rough and aggressive, but I'm not out there to put a guy in the hospital or end his career through stupidity. I can again say I'm not a Goon. I hate the word. If someone was to say that to my face I'd be pretty upset. The whole name of the game for me is to play tough. I played that way in Junior and I'm not changing now. My ability is in the corners and in front of the net, at least I can play this game, where a goon is a total-no-ability so-called player. Fighting is a part of the game, it's as they say a part of life.

Question: Did you do anything to prepare yourself mentally coming into your Professional Rookie Season?
Mann: I was just hoping that I would make the team and play here. I tried to prepare my self to be up for every game. Now when I do dress I may play sparingly, but while I'm out there I want to give it all, because here there's no loafing around especially under Mr. Ferguson and Mr. McVie.

Question: At the half-way point of the season, is the NHL what you expected it to be?
Mann: Well, it's basically everything what I thought it would be. It's a lot faster and you can see it's a Professionals game. It's a great life being in the NHL and especially with the Winnipeg Jets. The novelty of going and playing at the Montreal Forum, or Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens has passed. We've been through the teams once and now we have to get down to basics.

Question: What about your first Pro game as a Jet?
Mann: Well it was very exciting, but as I said we (I) have been through the circuit once and the novelty has passed. I try to do my job out there and help the team the best I can.

Question: What about the city of Winnipeg and it's hockey fans?
Mann: Winnipeg as a city, firstly it's a lot smaller than Montreal. I really haven't seen much of the city as yet, but the people here are just tremendous, just great really, they are so friendly it gives me a very warm feeling to be here, a feeling of confidence. It's a quiet city and cold as I was told, but it's a great hockey city. Being from Montreal and Sherbrooke, the life-style there you were always on the go, but here it's quieter and it gives a person a chance to slow down and take a look at himself. As for the hockey fans, it's unbelievable. They know the game and if you doing something wrong, they sure let you know it. When we don't hit or play the tough aggressive games, they let us know that also, I can't understand it, for some of them have gotten on my back for playing tough, and it doesn't make sense. In general the fans are great. They support the team to the fullest. Winnipeg does have a hockey reputation to live up to and they have the fans to back it. I'm sure they didn't win the 3 WHA Championships without the fan support. In all it's a great hockey city and even greater fans. The fans here are one of the best if not the best fans in the NHL.

Question: The dreaded Rookie Initiation. What did the Jets players do to Jimmy Mann?
Mann: I'll tell you something, I was lucky. I got through this pretty good. They took a little off the top of my hair, but I know they wanted it all. They shaved my moustache off. I didn't like it, but you have no choice. They also did a few other things that I'm not able to mention. I dreaded the whole thing. I did think about what was going to be done, I just didn't know how bad, I knew the moustache was gone right off the bat, and now I'm growing it back. The worst thing they did was put about half a jar of Vaseline in my hair. Vaseline and hair just don't mix. I shampooed all day to try and get it out, but that night was the Meet the Jets Night and someone said to me, "What's the matter Jim, don't you wash your hair?", they must have thought I was a greaseball; it was a little embarrassing but in all the guys were pretty good to me.

Question: At the beginning of the season your penalty minutes jumped to 100 mark pretty fast.
Mann: During the first four games, I think I got by one period without visiting the penalty box. It then stopped for a while, we weren't getting hit and in turn we weren't hitting enough. I'm getting penalties now, but I don't like these 10 minute penalties. If you get "good" penalty I think it's okay, but I try to stay and from tripping or hooking, because that's where you can hurt the player. A 5 minute here and there is good for the team for lets off some tension. My totals jumped up very fast in Junior also I know I'll be over 100 or 200 minutes every year. Now I know during the first quarter of the season I was at 110 minutes and now at the half way point I'm up to 140 minutes. I think the totals will slow down, I'll still get penalties, but now I've got more room out there to play the game. The opposition aren't testing me as much as they did earlier in the year. I'll still use the body, I'll still do my fair share of hitting.

Question: Tell us how it felt to score your first Pro goal?
Mann: My only goal to this point I might add. The first one is always the hardest to get, but the second one is even harder I think. That first goal, I wanted it bad and I wanted to score it at home. When that puck went in the net I still don't know how to say how I felt, but it was a relief. I was happy to get it for it was a game winner as well as a power play goal. I would like to get a few more goals, our team needs them. I've had my chances, but this is hockey and not horseshoes where close does count.

Question: How about your first fight as a Jet?
Mann: First one, you mean my first three, all in the same game, O'Reilly, Secord and Jonathon. I was very nervous coming in that game or even trying to wonder when that first one was going to happen. I knew that it would have to be someone big in the league, and being in my position and with a reputation for mixing it up, I needed the confidence to fight. Now if it would have been a Mario Tremblay rather than a Jerry Korab, I could have embarrassed myself, etc. But with a guy like O'Reilly he's big and I knew after that I was am able to handle myself in a spot like that. A while back Pierre Bouchard and myself had a go at it, now he's a good personal friend of mine, but on the ice it's a different story. After the game I saw him and we talked about it, but on that ice the only friends you have are the guys wearing the same sweaters you are. The first fight I needed as a confidence booster more than anything else and I was glad we won the fight and the game. I was happy that it happened and happened quick, 35 seconds into the game.

Question: Lets get away from hockey and get inside your head and find out about Jimmy Mann. Firstly you like fishing, which I think about 85% of the guys in hockey do, as well as camping.
Mann: I started fishing deep in the Quebec woods, about 150 miles outside of Montreal. It's great to get away from everything for a while in a log cabin and just totally unwind. I am a trout fisherman, 12-15 inchers, and after a while I slipped away from it but now it's back to the waters and camping. I don't like trapping, but while I was in Sherbrooke, the family I was with were trappers. I don't enjoy the killing of the animals, but being in the woods was enjoyable. They also took me to a fishing spot where you don't catch 12-16 inch trout, but 12-16 pounders. I know the family that owns the Sherbrooke Hockey Stick Company and they have their own lakes in Northern Quebec and the fishing for salmon is great up there. Fishing, camping and being outdoors in the woods is an ideal Jimmy Mann summer.

Question: I understand you like working with the kids at the Hockey Schools.
Mann: I love to work with kids. When I was growing up, there was one day where a Pro player didn't have time to spend a moment to talk with me and that really hurt. I look up to the guy and he lets me down. I said to myself if I ever make it, I'm not going to be like that. I like to try to help the kids out in what ever way I can. I've been to skating parties where the smaller ones come up and say, "C'mon Jim wanna fight", now I'll have a small tussle with them. They are a ball and they make me feel a part of the game.

Question: If you and Peter Marsh ever invaded an Italian Restaurant they'd be in trouble?
Mann: I just love Italian food. I've always loved it. Spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, whatever and with lots of cheese, it's just great. I know a lot of guys will have spaghetti as a pre-game meal, it has the necessary energy needed by the body for the game, and don't forget it's Italian.

Question: How does Jimmy Mann relax?
Mann: Well, I enjoy music. Some of my favorites are Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan and I'm also into hard rock too. At home I like the quiet music it helps me relax but in my new car. I'll open up to new stuff like Boston, Supertramp. But it's more the mellowed down stuff like Fleetwood Mac and Dylan. I think I'm one of the milliions that have the Rumours album, and something like that after a hectic day is nice to relax to. I like the hard rock and I like to listen to it at times for my own pleasure. I like some music after a game, it helps me relax because after some games it can be hard to get some sleep, so I have my music and it's great. My favorite movie is Rocky. When I see a movie I'd like to find out about it. Rocky is a picture where he had a limited budget and turned it into a blockbuster. The movie has a good story behind it that relates to life. He gets pulled off the streets and he shows that with determination you can get whatever you want. It's a movie I can relate to as do many people. I don't have any one favorite charity. If I can help I like to help all, I'm fortunate to be where I am, whereas they are unfortunate to be in their position so if I can lend a hand I will.

Question: How do you see the other players on the Jets?
Mann: The guys are just great. On the ice or off the ice. I've learned a lot from all the guys. I've been accepted very well and that's important in coming into a new team, it puts you at ease where you can get to the game instead of thinking whets going on behind your back. We have a super bunch here with a determined attitude, we want to win, we try and try, and we don't give up.

Question: John Ferguson?
Mann: Mr. Ferguson was my first contact into coming here and I've got a lot of respect for him. For what he did here last year and he was a part of bringing the NHL to Winnipeg, he has opened the door to a new life for me. He gave me the confidence to start off in Pro the right way and he's one of the three men here I really respect.

Question: The other two must be Tom McVie and Bill Sutherland?
Mann: Mr. McVie and Mr. Sutherland are my on ice bosses and they have brought me a long way from the draft through training camp and into the season. As for training camp, I've never been through anything like it and I don't think I'd like to go through anything but that same camp again. The camp was one of the best run and best organized camps I've been to and it really helped me in preparation for my rookie year. The coaches were prepared to a "T", and if you ask any other player they'll tell you it was "a helluva camp". People say that Tommy is tough, and he may be, but if you're not in shape, don't bother showing up for his camp for he is a fitness coach with a winning goal and attitude. They both have pulled me aside after a regular practice to help with part of my own game and I really appreciate that. They are taking extra time to help me improve on my game. Those three gentlemen are three of the most super guys in hockey.

Question: At the half way point of the season, what's the general atmosphere of the guys?
Mann: The atmosphere of the guys has not gone down. We are in a losing streak but have the determination to keep plugging away at it until we find the key to get those wins and keep consistent. We as a team want to do well for the club, coaches, management and our fans, the best we can. We have had problems scoring goals, but one day we will break out of it and look out NHL. We never quit in a game and we feel that we are out for a 60 minute game, that's what we will play - 60 minutes.

Question: Has the question of being sent down to the minors ever entered your mind? What effect would it personally have on you?
Mann: It would really bother me, because I've been here half the season now and I know I can help the team. I always want to work hard when I'm out there with hard work under Tom McVie and John Ferguson you will stay with the number 1 club and not play in Tulsa or even Dayton. If I lose the puck, I try to compensate for it. If I was to leave it as is, the other team could take the puck and score, and for me that is an automatic ticket to the minors.

Question: What are your hockey goals?
Mann: My personal goals are firstly to do as well as I can, be on a winning team and to have a good hockey life. I want to do my job as well as expected by the coaches and management.

Question: What about the rest of this season?
Mann: We as a team are not letting down and we will make the play-offs. We have surprised a few people already this year, but they do say the last half can be the best half and that's the what we are looking at right now.

Question: Jimmy Mann, the Jetstream thanks you for these moments.
Mann: Thank you, Gary.