It's odd that I considered a player selected 19th overall, who played over 200 career games, the ultimate draft bust. It's true that the next two players selected were Michel Goulet and Kevin Lowe. It's true that Mann's 30 career points is about 130 less than the second lowest total of players drafted in the first round. It's true that Mann is only one of two players selected in the first round that played less than 590 career games. Although it's also true there are many players in other drafts years selected higher than 19th overall whom never played a single game in the NHL. So I really have no idea how I equated Jimmy Mann as the ultimate draft bust. It's a notion that formed as a child and I can't remember why.
Mann put up some decent numbers in junior to backup his high draft position. He had back-to-back 80+ points and 260 PIM with the Sherbrooke Castors. He was a QMJHL First Team All-star in 1979 and had 14 goals and 26 points in 12 play-off games.
Mann joined the Jets for the 1979-80 season. He scored his first career goal against Curt Ridley of the Vancouver Canucks. It was a powerplay goal and the game winner in a 5-3 victory. It was the last time he scored a powerplay or game-wining goal in his career. Mann led the NHL in PIM, 287, during his rookie season. Mann had career highs across the board in his rookie season with 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points, and 287 PIM in 72 games played. In his second season, Mann led the Jets in PIM, 105, while playing in 37 games.
Mann would become infamous in 1982. On January 13, 1982, Mann sucker punched Paul Gardner. Gardner missed 21 games due to a broken jaw. Mann was suspended 10 games and charged, and convicted of assault. At the time, it was one the sixth longest suspension in NHL History. Gardner had earlier cross-checked the Jets Doug Smail in the face. In retaliation, Jets coach, Tom Watt, send Jimmy Mann over the boards to send Gardner a message.
Mann's reputation was tarnished as he had gone from prospect to enforcer to goon. Mann spent another season and a half with Jets, scoring one goal, 2 assists and 134 PIM in 68 games after the incident. He was sent down to the minors in November of 1983 and stayed there until he was traded to the Quebec Nordiques for a 5th round draft pick. Mann would be used sparingly with the Nordiques. Although part of the team, he was not dressed during the infamous Good Friday brawl between the Nordiques and Canadiens in the second round of the 1984 play-offs.
Mann suffered a serious abdominal injury in December of 1984. He returned to the team late in the season but the injury nagged him for the next few seasons and was severe enough for him to miss the entire 86-87. Mann signed as free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 87-88 season. It was an injury plagued season as Mann missed time due to elbow and groin injuries. He accumulated 53 PIM in 9 games the Penguins and also 61 PIM in 10 games in the minors. After spending the 88-89 season in the minors, Mann retired.
Certainly looking back, Mann did not live up to his potential but I also feel he doesn't live up to my labeling him as the ultimate Draft Bust. There are some top 10 picks who never played a NHL game and plenty of top 5 picks never played a full season.
Mann's career in cards turned out to be a bust. After getting cards in his first two seasons, the 80-81 and 81-82 set, Mann disappeared from OPC. Mann took notice of this and actually blamed Alan Eagleson, NHLPA head and agent for Paul Gardner, for blackballing him from the hockey sets. The story is also covered in Hockey Card Stories. I agree that Mann was not cardboard worthy after the 81-82 release, but that's where I come in. I couldn't find a decent picture of Mann as a Penguins so his Lost Card will be him as a Nordique.
1986-87 OPC #275 Jimmy Mann
|1986-87 OPC #275 Jimmy Mann
|1982-83 OPC Jimmy Mann