The Winnipeg Jets experienced another historical first, as they participated in their first NHL Entry Draft, selecting six players, one in each round. Foremost among the selections was the Jets’ first round selection, Jimmy Mann, who was selected with the nineteenth overall selection.
Mann, known more for what he does with his gloves off than he does with his gloves on, has been coveted by Jets’ Vice President and General Manager John Ferguson for a long time, and when presented with the opportunity to draft him, he did not hesitate. “There were a lot of fine, young men available in this Draft that would have made a positive impact on our hockey club,” stated Ferguson. “We selected Jimmy, and we feel he’ll add that element of toughness that we’ll need. We lost Clackson to the Penguins, so we needed someone to fill that role, and Jimmy has a proven track record in junior hockey. He might even score a couple of goals for us.”
When asked about the other prospects available, Ferguson added, “Certainly, we looked at a lot of kids, and it was a very difficult decision we had to make. Take Michel Goulet, for instance, the player that was selected immediately after our pick. We’ve seen him in the WHA, and we think he’s going to have a hell of a future in the NHL. Who knows, he might even end up in the Hall of Fame, but Jimmy was someone we could not pass up. We’ve scouted Jimmy, talked to his coaches, spoken with the police officers who arrested him, and we’re confident that he’ll be able to fill the same role for us as he did in junior hockey. Once our fans see the first time he jumps off the bench and socks someone in the face, they’ll see why we made this decision. You won’t find a more willing combatant and a more respectful young man than Jimmy Mann.”
Mann, for his part, was thrilled with his selection. “It’s a real honor to have been drafted by the Winnipeg Jets, and I’m proud to be part of the organization. I’m looking forward to the coming season and to meeting Mr. McVie and Mr. Sutherland. My agent told me that there was a chance I could get drafted, so when Mr. Ferguson called and told me I had been drafted in the first round, I was speechless. I’m going to do everything I can to fight for a roster spot and to make the Jets a force to be reckoned with.” When asked about comparisons to another name familiar to Winnipeg fans, Steve Durbano, formerly of the Birmingham Bulls, Mann responded, “I hope to make a name for myself and make everyone forget about Steve Durbano.” Mann also added, “I’ve never ripped off anyone’s hairpiece before, but give me time, I’m just a rookie.”
The Jets’ other selections were Dave Christian, Bill Whelton, Pat Daley, Thomas Steen and Tim Watters. Christian will be with the U.S. Olympic Team, Watters is currently attending college in the U.S., while Steen will remain in Sweden this coming season. However, this draft, from a Jets perspective, will be defined by the first pick made by Ferguson, his first since taking over the reins of the Jets last season. One thing’s for sure, this expansion team that will take to this ice for the first time as a member of the NHL won’t be pushed around. Jimmy Mann will see to that, and John Ferguson couldn’t be happier.