Jim Johnson was born August 9, 1962 in New Hope, Minnesota. A graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Johnson signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins following his senior year in 1985.
A stay-at-home defenceman, Johnson played parts of six seasons with the Penguins before being traded to the Minnesota North Stars in the early stages of the 1990-91 season. Johnson transferred to Dallas in the summer of 1993 after the Minnesota franchise relocated and was subsequently traded to the Washington Capitals in the latter stages of the 1993-94 season.
After parts of three seasons in Washington, Johnson signed as a free agent with the Phoenix Coyotes in the summer of 1996. On November 11, 1997 Johnson suffered a career-ending head injury in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Throughout his playing career, Johnson represented his country at four World Championships (1985, 1986, 1987 and 1990) and one Canada Cup (1992) and went on to be named the Assistant Coach of the U.S. National Junior Team for the 1999-00 season.
The New Hope, Minnesota native officialy announced his retirement on July 21, 1998 after 829 career NHL games.