Women in Sports: NHL Network Host, Jackie Redmond
NHL Network’s Jackie Redmond can be seen hosting NHL Now weekdays at 4:00pm ET throughout the regular season.
Prior to arriving at NHL Network, Redmond spent six years as an anchor for Canada’s Sportsnet. During her time at Sportsnet, Redmond hosted a variety of studio programs, including the flagship show “Sportsnet Central,” plus “Misplays of the Month,” “Plays of the Month,” and “Hockey Central Playoff Xtra.”
Redmond, a London, Ontario native and lifelong hockey fan, began her professional career by winning “Gillette DRAFTED 3: The Search for Canada’s Next Sportscaster” in 2011, becoming the first female winner in the show’s history.
Nick Durst, Double G Sports (DGS): Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like, did you play any sports?
Jackie Redmond: I am originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia but I moved to London, Ontario when I was about 4, which is about 2 hours west of Toronto. My Mom traveled a lot when I was a kid so I was with my Dad a lot which resulted in me watching a lot of Leafs and Blue Jays games. I played hockey and baseball my whole life, I also did basketball for a little while, I was a figure skater before I played hockey, I pretty much played everything.
DGS: How have you adjusted to living in New Jersey and the USA? Has there been a cultural shock?
Redmond: I still feel like I am getting to know the area, I feel like I’ve barely tipped my toe. As far as the cultural shock you wouldn’t think there would be one, I didn’t, but when I go home, everyone in Canada says I’m speaking like an American and when I walk around these hallways at work, people literally address me by “Sorry,” so everyone here thinks I sound like a Canadian, so I guess there is a little bit of a culture difference. Finding a new coffee place was difficult for me, obviously I’m a big Tim Horton’s fan.
DGS: Dunkin’ Donuts now or Starbucks?
Redmond: Everyone told me Dunkin’ was the American Tim Horton’s and it was fine but it’s not my spot. I go to a little place called Empire around the corner from my house and Starbucks when my options are limited.
DGS: Where did you go to college and what did you study?
Redmond: I went to a school called Guelph-Humber which is really the combination of two schools, Humber College which is in Toronto and Guelph University. They had a dual program there, my diploma is in broadcast journalism and my degree is in media communications.
DGS: What is your first sports memory?
Redmond: I would say I don’t remember this moment of the game but I do remember in 1993 the Gretzky high stick, the infamous moment between the Leafs and the LA Kings, I just remember my Dad’s reaction to it, which was very angry and frustrated. I was only 5 at the time so I remember that and I remember the Blue Jays winning the World Series, the Joe Carter home run. I don’t remember visually seeing either of them but I remember the moment and the chaos in my household.
DGS: Was there a particular moment when you realized you wanted to work in sports?
Redmond: Yes. So to give a little background, my Dad is my best friend and when I was a kid, as I got older, I wanted to stay up later so when the games ended, my Dad would let me stay up and we would listen to sports talk radio and fans would call in and my Dad would talk to me about whatever the question was and I didn’t realize at the time, that those conversations instilled in me the idea that I had a voice and an opinion and it matter. I didn’t come to that realization until I was in high school and I never felt more comfortable than when I was talking to my friends about the hockey game the night before. I never felt more confident in myself than in those moments. So the combination of that and people’s reactions to me being so opinionated and passionate about it, kind of told me maybe I can turn this into something one day.
DGS: How did you get your first internship and where was it?
Redmond: It was with Rogers TV in London, Ontario and there I did a little bit of everything, camera work, floor directing and graphics. Eventually over time, it turned into me doing field reporting for them for free but I was on camera. My first ever segment was me doing a class of hot yoga, which was very trendy at the time. I then interned with the London Knights and ET Canada. When I talked to the advisor at college and mentioned that I wanted to do a sports internship the reaction was, well a lot of the boys in the program are applying for that. So I ended up at ET Canada.
DGS: Was there anyone in particular you looked up to and emulated your on air personality after?
Redmond: I have always said that I want to be the Ryan Seacrest of sports. He does everything so I have always admired that.
DGS: While working at theScore, you were able to do everything from producing short form features to voicing highlights to hosting a live daily show to interviewing numerous professional athletes. What was your favorite thing that you were able to do while working there and how beneficial was it to you growing as a broadcaster to be involved in so many different things?
Redmond: When I first got there, I had won a reality show (“Gillette DRAFTED 3: The Search for Canada’s Next Sportscaster”) and came in with a one year contract and a lot of the work I did was features. About three months in, I got moved to the highlight department and was disappointed but I will never forget, Greg Sansone who is now he VP of Programming at Sportsnet, said this is going to make you better in the long run and he was right. It was probably the most dialed into sports I had ever been. So I would say that was the most beneficial thing I did at theScore, was cut highlights and I learned so much from the people around me doing it. About 9 months later I got the chance to host Live at theScore and I truly don’t think I would have been ready for that had I not had all of this confidence building happening while working in highlights. The coolest thing I got to do there was probably Live at theScore because we didn’t have a lot of rights to games so it was all conversational, it was all personality driven and I figured out who I was. I was very young at the time and not very good but I was put in a position where I was encouraged to be myself. I owe a lot to theScore television network.
DGS: Did you ever freak out before an interview and say to yourself wow, I cannot believe I am about to interview this person?
Redmond: There was two, the first one happened when I was at theScore. Early in my career I was sent to interview Mats Sundin ahead of his banner raising ceremony. For me, I saw Sundin’s career from start to finish as a diehard fan. I wasn’t nervous about interviewing him but it was more so about my life coming full circle. A couple of years after that I got to interview The Rock and I was nervous for that one because I was a big wrestling fan as a kid. Sometimes you meet these massive stars and they disappoint you but he was the nicest human being and I was probably the 30th person to interview him that day but he was awesome and we played rock, paper scissors obviously. I won because I knew he was going to do rock.
DGS: Who would be your dream interview?
Redmond: I would love to interview Wayne Gretzky just because he is the great one. I would love to do something fun with him like interview him at a driving range and hit golf balls. I don’t know if he would be open to it but that is what I would want to do.
DGS: What did you enjoy most about covering NHL All Star Weekend this season?
Redmond: I would say the Kendall Coyne moment. Growing up, my sister would always say she was going to play in the NHL one day. So to see more than one women included in the All Star festivities and have a guy like Connor McDavid genuinely singing her praises afterwards, that was a big moment for me as a person because I never thought I would see the day where that happened.
DGS: Do you prefer working in studio or out in the field?
Redmond: I would say I don’t have a preference but I like to switch it up a lot. Like I said, Ryan Seacrest is my model and he does everything. I am not a believer that if you are a jack of all trades, you’re a master of none, so I enjoy both.
DGS: Have you ever had a moment where you had to pinch yourself and say I cannot believe I am covering this event?
Redmond: I’ve done a lot of cool stuff but being five feet away from Alex Ovechkin as he’s lifting his first Stanley Cup, that was such a surreal moment. I am standing there seeing a player I am a huge fan of, lift the cup for the first time after such a long journey to get there and I sort of felt like man it took me a long time to get where I’m at in this moment as well. That was kind of like a woah, this is happening now. I was right there on the ice and I was like this is crazy.
DGS: Where does Jose Bautista’s bat flip rank in your all-time best Toronto sports moments?
Redmond: It’s up there, especially for people in my age range because there wasn’t a lot of winning in Toronto in my life. I was so young for the World Series and I couldn’t appreciate it but I was at Game 5 and for me, the bat flip was my best live sporting event moment ever.
DGS: Are you expecting to see phenomenal things from Vladimir Guerrero Jr.?
Redmond: Yes, 100%! I am always hesitant that I may jinx it as a Toronto fan but I think he is going to be incredible. It is something that Blue Jays fans are very excited about. You know he’s a big deal when he is getting hype in America. That’s when you know someone is a big deal.
DGS: So speaking of jinxes, do you believe in the Drake jinx?
Redmond: *laughs* well I am on the record saying sports jinxes aren’t real but I am kind of starting to think the Drake thing is real. He needs to pick a team and stick to it. You are the Toronto Raptors ambassador, so that should be the only logo I see on your chest. But love for Drake, he puts Toronto on the map and represents it all the time. So before any of his people and fans read this and attack me, let it be known I love Drake, just stick with the Raptors.
DGS: Does John Tavares joining Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs guarantee the team a Stanley Cup in the next few years?
Redmond: I was in Canada when it happened and people were partying like the Leafs won the Cup. It happened Canada Day weekend, so it was a long weekend, so people were going to be celebrating the country anyway but it was crazy. I was pumped as a Leaf fan and I was shocked. I had a similar reaction to when Mike Babcock was hired as coach because I truly didn’t think he was going to choose the Leafs as his next spot. So I was more shocked than anything rather than planning the parade route. Although, I do think if the Leafs keep trending the way they are over the next few years, they will certainly be contending for a cup. But as we know, it is not as easy as just getting a superstar player.
DGS: Was the Winter Classic at Citi Field the coldest sporting event you ever attended?
Redmond: *laughs* Yes. It was the coldest sporting event I have ever been to. Although, I went to a Chicago Bears game in Chicago on December 28th like 9 or 10 years ago and that was pretty cold. So it is like 1A, 1B. But I was freezing at Citi Field. I must have taken a one hour shower when I got home because I did not want to leave the heat ever again.
DGS: Who are some of your favorite athletes to watch play?
Redmond: Connor McDavid’s amazing, Sidney Crosby is incredible, Patrick Kane is so fun to watch and I’m a big Tiger Woods fan.
DGS: You have covered WWE in the past, do you plan to attend Wrestlemania 35 here in New Jersey?
Redmond: I’m going, yes, 100%.
DGS: What do you think it says for wrestling that the main event will likely feature three women in Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch?
Redmond: I think it says a lot. The important thing there is fans are excited about it. I think the fact that the fans want that says more about what is going on in WWE with women than anything else. I think it is kickass.
DGS: What is your favorite arena and baseball stadium?
Redmond: I haven’t been to that many arenas which is crazy but the best arena I have seen a game in was probably the Madhouse (United Center) in Chicago. I went to a game there 4 or 5 years ago and the Hawks were very good at the time and the crowd there was just unbelievable. It was awesome. Vegas was pretty crazy though, I was at game one of the Stanley Cup playoffs and I was blown away by the fans. I haven’t been to that many rinks or ballparks, I guess I need to go to more games.
DGS: Who is your favorite mascot?
Redmond: SJ Sharkie. There was a credit card commercial that had all the mascots in it and SJ Sharkie was the star.
DGS: If you could host a game show, what would it be?
Redmond: I would love to host Big Brother, I am a big Big Brother fan. I would always say to my sister, if they ever have a celebrity Big Brother Canada, do you think I can get on it? Masked Singer would also be fun to host just because it is absolutely ridiculous.
DGS: Outside of sports, what are your hobbies?
Redmond: Big karaoke person, go-to karaoke song is Real Slim Shady, I kill it. I really am into golf, I wish I had more time to play. I like playing pool, hanging out with my friends, going to Broadway shows and reading. I write a lot, I used to write poetry.
DGS: What is your career goal?
Redmond: I want to write a book, I have a good title but I am not going to release that. I just have always had the mindset of I want to see how far I can go. I never want to look back on my life and say what if? I have always wanted to do an interview type of show. When I had the offer for this job that is how I decided to leave my friends and family because I didn’t think I would have been able to live with myself had I passed.
DGS: What would you say to someone who asked you for the blueprint to get an on-air job or a job behind the scenes working in sports?
Redmond: The crazy thing is, I don’t think there is one. Everyone’s path is different. What I will say is two things have contributed to my success. The first is that I have always been open to feedback. It is frustrating when you are starting out and you are told you are too green. I used to film myself practicing and bring it to my bosses and peers and ask them for advice. So I always encourage people not to shy away from feedback. It sucks to hear it, but it makes you better. The other thing is listen to your intuition. I did a lot of gigs early in my career that other people maybe turned their nose up at but they led me to big things. I never really say no to an opportunity unless I have to. I always tell people get experience where you can, even if it is not your dream job. You never know who you are going to meet or what you are going to gain from that experience. My first job in media was handing out mugs and t-shirts for a radio station and that is how I got my foot in the door.
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