Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna is in his 33rd year as a college hockey administrator. This season marks his 18th year with Hockey East, after serving in a similar capacity with the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) for 15 years. He is the longest serving commissioner in Hockey East history. In June of 2012, Hockey East directors extended Bertagna's contract through the 2014-15 season as a direct response to a number of triumphs for the conference, including three new television contracts, multiple sold-out events at Fenway Park, and the addition of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Connecticut.
Bertagna has carved out a unique career in the sport he first played as a freshman goaltender at Harvard University in 1969. After spending 15 years as the primary ice hockey administrator the ECAC, Bertagna became Hockey East's fourth commissioner on July 1, 1997. A native of Arlington, Massachusetts, Bertagna began working at the ECAC in 1982, when he was named Tournament Director. He was later named Executive Director of Ice Hockey before he was appointed Ice Hockey Commissioner in 1991.
Bertagna made his mark immediately at Hockey East, engineering a multi-year television deal (SportsChannel New England) in his first month on the job. Shortly thereafter, league tournament attendance rocketed upward, leading to the event's first-ever sellout in 2000. Bertagna was also instrumental in bringing about the formation of the Women's Hockey East Association, just as he initiated league play for both Division I and Division III women's programs while with the ECAC. In 2013, the directors recognized his contributions to the women's game by dubbing the Women's Hockey East championship trophy the Bertagna Trophy.
Hockey East has enjoyed unparalleled success on the ice during Bertagna's tenure, winning six men's national championships, including four of the last seven, and regularly enjoying post-season accolades for many of its studentathletes. Six of the last 12 players recognized as "Hobey Hat Trick" honorees have come from Hockey East schools, including last year's winner, Boston College's Johnny Gaudreau.
Media coverage has soared under Bertagna's direction, as evidenced by the signing of two national contracts in 2011, a renewal with CBS Sports Network and a first-ever deal with NBC Sports Network. Further, a four-year contract with the New England Sports Network (NESN) provides unprecedented local coverage.
In January of 2010, Bertagna and his staff administered the first outdoor college hockey game in the east when Boston's fabled Fenway Park played host to a Hockey East doubleheader. The event, which sold out on the first day of public sale in September 2009, was an unprecedented success for the conference, both financially and in terms of exposure. In January 2012, Bertagna negotiated another contract with the Red Sox, creating a doubleheader for January 2012 featuring the league's four Division I state universities: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. As in 2010, the event sold out, leading to the addition of third contest, BC vs. Northeastern. For the 2014 iteration, Bertagna negotiated for the inclusion of eight of Hockey East's 11 men's teams, including newcomer Notre Dame. The two doubleheaders attracted more than 57,000 fans to Fenway Park.
Nationally, Bertagna has been the Executive Director of the American Hockey Coaches Association since 1991, the only person to serve in that capacity. In this role, he has overseen the growth of AHCA membership from fewer than 300 members in 1992 to more than 1,400 members today. He has served two separate stints on the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee, chairing the committee is first time through and currently back as a committee member this year. He also serves on the Board of Directors of both USA Hockey and the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation.
Beyond his college hockey accomplishments, Bertagna has forged an international reputation as a student and coach of goaltending. No one in North America is respected more for his contributions to the study of the position. Last year, he celebrated his 40th year as a goalie coach, having operated his own clinics for thousands of goalies of all ages throughout New England since 1973. He continues to speak on the subject for USA Hockey throughout the United States. Through his camps, lectures, print materials and DVDs, he has influenced the teaching of young goaltenders more than any other goaltending coach in the United States. His seventh DVD, "Goaltending Today: Traditional Values through New Techniques," was released by Championship Productions of Ames, Iowa, in 2011.
As a player, Bertagna began at Arlington (Mass.) High School, before going on to Harvard University. During his development up, he played for and learned from three Hall of Fame coaches: Ed Burns at Arlington, and Ralph "Cooney" Weiland and Bill Cleary at Harvard. A two-year starter at Harvard (1971-72 and 1972-73), Bertagna led the Ivy League with a 2.45 GAA in 1972. After Harvard, he played professionally for the Milwaukee Admirals and in Cortina, Italy. He helped lead his S.G. Cortina d'Ampezzo squad to the 1975 Italian Championship.
He began his professional coaching career in 1985 with the Boston Bruins, remaining with the club as the goaltender coach until 1991 and rejoining the team for the 1994-95 season. He also part of the coaching staffs of the U.S. Men's National Team at the 1991 Canada Cup, the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team at the 1994 Winter Olympics, and with the Milwaukee Admirals from 1994-96.
Bertagna enjoyed a brief college coaching career at Harvard University in the late 1970s, serving as Men's Junior Varsity Coach in 1976-77 and launching Harvard's women's ice hockey program in 1977- 78. He served as head coach of Harvard Women's Hockey for two seasons.
Bertagna and his wife Kathy, a two-sport athlete at Bates College, reside in Gloucester with their three children, Bobby (18), Joey (16) and Grace (13).