Since 2019, Julie Stewart-Binks has been hosting her weekly interview show Drinks With Binks on Fubo Sports Network, a show that’s produced plenty of interesting interviews. For this year’s NHL playoffs, Stewart-Binks is taking that concept in a different direction for Drinks With Binks on Ice, a limited-series interview show focused on women in hockey that airs on Fubo Sports Network every Saturday at 11 p.m. ET/PT during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Stewart-Binks recently spoke to AA about this, and said the concept came from her looking for a way to feature some of the prominent women in hockey.
“As I’ve been doing this show, I love the variety of guests I’ve had on over almost the last three years, but I’ve really missed covering hockey, getting into hockey, and being part of that scene. I wanted to have just an edition of it dedicated to hockey, and I thought the playoffs were a great time to do it, just because this time of the year lets us sort of focus on it. And I just thought about that space not even just as a hockey idea, but hockey and women.”
“I mentioned when I put the original show out that Jackie Redmond from the NHL Network kind of got me thinking along the lines of creating a space where women can kind of feel warm and comfortable talking about hockey, being themselves, and not having to fit into a role created for us by the industry, a male-dominated industry. We’ve always kind of been either the one woman that’s hosted the panel and thrown to break, or the one woman as the reporter, and that whole system really pit us all against one another.”
Stewart-Binks said she took inspiration from something ESPN’s Mina Kimes has said about a perception of limited opportunity for women competing for the same roles. Here’s that full quote, via Julie DiCaro‘s book Sidelined: “I think a lot of the competition in this industry, and I’m sure this is true of any industry, is driven by a perception of limited opportunity. And as that opportunity expands, as the presence of women not only in host roles but in a variety of roles becomes normalized, it’s better for everyone. And I think it encourages people to be more supportive because it doesn’t feel like we’re all competing for scraps.” Stewart-Binks said she seconds that, and thinks it’s important for women in sports media to not be limited to particular roles: “It’s about women promoting each other versus tearing each other down. And the more we buy into the idea that we’re competing with other women, we’re really limiting ourselves to not be competing with men and being on the same level as men doing this.”
And she said that sparked her to launch this particular limited series.
“I thought, ‘You know what, I have this platform, I’m the executive producer of this show, it has my name on it, I want to do something that’s going to be a part of something positive for women in sports. I want to give them a platform. I want to take this spotlight and put it on them.'”
“And whether it’s people I’m literally competing for jobs against, or people in completely different realms of hockey and I want to have their voices put to the forefront, we need to make it more about us so it’s less about our gender. And if I’m going to say ‘Hey, we need more women on panels, we need more women in these positions,’ if I have the ability to make that decision then I have to make it, and I want to make it. It was important to me to not have just a hockey show, but a hockey-specific show featuring women.”
Stewart-Binks said she’s long appreciated Redmond’s originality and refusal to be placed in a limited role, making her a great first guest for this new show.
“We never really knew each other in Canada, even though we’re both from Toronto. I had applied for The Score’s Drafted show that she won, and I didn’t get on it, but I remember seeing when she won it, and I followed her career. And then she came on my show originally [in December 2019] and said ‘I followed your career when you moved to the States.’ I’ve always really liked how authentic she’s been; she knows the sports, she knows everything, but she’s not afraid to be herself and show personality. A lot of people are really afraid to do that and have opinions. Many women have been put into a box and told ‘Don’t say that, it’s going to offend somebody,’ or ‘Don’t dress that way, you’ll offend someone else,’ and it’s like ‘Why can’t we just do this thing we wanted to do and not always have to worry about whatever someone else thinks?'”
“And because she’s always been so authentic and just really been Jackie Redmond her whole life, she’s someone who’s really inspired a lot of women. The women I spoke to from BarDown [on episode 2], Marissa Roberto and Julia Tocheri, they both said they drew inspiration from people like Jackie or Renee [Paquette] or myself, people who really decided to not fit into a mold or a norm that’s been created for us over the years, but decided to really take a chance and do something a little bit different. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, sometimes it does work out, but you have to be able to take that risk in yourself.”
Stewart-Binks said another comment from Redmond also proved inspirational.
“And Jackie said something recently like ‘Everyone in the league grew up with ‘You have to be one of the guys.’ It was a badge of honor to be one of the guys. I’m the girl picked to watch sports with the guys because they think I’m cool, I’m going to get to drink beer with them, and I’m the only woman in this club, I’ve been accepted in.’ And she said on my show she realized that by doing that, she was part of the problem. And we’ve all agreed, me, and Marissa and Julia, we were all part of the problem. We all were the ‘Pick me’ girl, because that was the world we lived in, and that was created for us. And we don’t want to have that any more!”
“I don’t want young women coming up in the industry to feel like ‘Oh no, you have to go through all the stuff I went through to be able to be accepted.’ I want to create a good space for you, a space I didn’t have. I felt like I had to be someone else that I wasn’t. You can like high heels and also sports, you can wear lip gloss and also know what a power play is, it’s not like those two are mutually exclusive. Jackie said something on ‘Watching hockey, I want to be one of the girls,’ and I really liked that. We need to band together instead of tearing each other down, and that’s true for a lot of women in society in many different roles; the more of us there are, the less it can be about our gender, and then it can be about our actual abilities and who we are rather than what body parts we have.”
As for why the focus on hockey in particular, Stewart-Binks said she has a long history with the sport, and a lot of passion for it.
“I’ve had hockey in my blood since I was a kid. I was a competitive figure skater growing up, but I started playing hockey when I was about 12 or 13, house-league hockey, because I could skate really well and I thought ‘Huh, I might as well do this.’ Growing up in North Toronto, I was a massive Leafs fan growing up, and then it was a catalyst; when I did go to university at Queen’s and I tried TV and radio and different things like that, and was like ‘I want to do this for sports,’ I wanted to do it for hockey.”
“And my whole career started with hockey: going and volunteering to cover the OHL, and travelling around, living at my grandma’s retirement residence because I obviously was not paid. Then I went to England and worked in soccer, which was great, but I desperately missed hockey over there. So I came back and went out to Regina, Saskatchewan with CTV and covered so much hockey, and so many of the guys that I covered are now playing in the NHL and have won Stanley Cups, which is really cool to see. And then I went down to LA and covered the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals and covered the Anaheim Ducks for years.”
— Julie Stewart-Binks (@JSB_TV) May 9, 2022
“It’s one of those things where it’s so innate; when I watch games, I have so much knowledge of the players and their backgrounds, and just the pulse of the game, and I know the cities, I’ve been to every rink, and I just love it so much. I understand the players, and I understand the strategy of it. I haven’t played in a bit because of COVID, I was a little wary about playing, but I was playing at Chelsea Piers before that, and I still have that immense feeling of getting out on the ice. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing, in your blood; it stays with you.”
These playoffs have also seen Stewart-Binks doing some reporter work for The NHL on TNT, covering Games 3 and 4 of the Leafs-Lightning series (she was also set to work Games 6 and 7 before testing positive for COVID-19). She said she’s particularly enjoyed the opportunity to get involved with NHL broadcasts again.
“It’s been great. It’s allowed me to really get back to the rink and catch up with those people I covered when I was a kid. It’s great to be able to be back on a live broadcast, because I haven’t done that in so long. And it’s kind of different with all the COVID protocols, you can’t go in the locker room and talk to players any more. But it’s been great being back.”
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And she said she’s long familiar with doing Drinks with Binks from remote locations, so the travel to cover the playoffs hasn’t been a problem.
“I’ve been so used to taking my Fubo show on the road with me that I shot [episode 2] in my hotel room. I bring my camera, my lighting setup, my internet setup, every single thing with me. I’m like a travelling show. The pandemic obviously helped me with that, when I did my show from quarantine when I had to go to Canada, and I’ve done it pretty much everywhere. So that has afforded the ability to take on other assignments while also doing my show. I’ve been kind of living it and then also able to talk to people about how they’re living it as well.”
Drinks with Binks On Ice airs Saturdays at 11pm ET/PT on Fubo Sports Network. The network is available as a free channel on LG Channels, Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, Vizio Channels, Sports on Tubi, Plex, Hisense Smart TVs, XUMO or on fubosportsnetwork.com. It is also part of fuboTV’s subscription packages of 100+ sports, news and entertainment channels.