LAWRENCE, Mass. — Joe Bertagna was named the fourth commissioner of Hockey East on Tuesday in an announcement made by the conference’s Board of Directors.
The Arlington, Mass. native leaves the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC), where he was employed for 15 years, including the last three as the conference’s first Hockey Commissioner.
Bertagna will stay with the ECAC until his current contract expires on June 1. He is expected to take a month off before assuming his post with Hockey East on July 1.
“I am sincerely excited about the opportunity to work for the schools of Hockey East,” said Bertagna, 45. “My 15 years with the ECAC have been terrific and this decision did not come without some difficulty. But I look forward to new relationships and new challenges in one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences.”
Bertagna is a respected ambassador of the game who has worn many hats for the ECAC since his hiring in 1982-83 as tournament director. Bertagna has served as the Executive Director of the American Hockey Coaches Association since 1984.
“I am very excited and I know all of the Hockey East athletic directors are as well to have Joe moving into the job this summer,” said Gary Strickler, Chairman of the Hockey East Executive Committee and Director of Athletics at Boston University, “Joe brings a national hockey reputation and I know he will make our strong conference even stronger.
“We know what a good job Joe has done for ECAC hockey, and look forward to him doing the same for Hockey East.”
Bertagna started working primarily as the public relations coordinator for the ECAC following a stint as the sports information director at Harvard, his alma mater. He is credited for creating the ECAC’s tournament television package, regular season television package and corporate sponsorships with Bauer and Karhu. He was a driving force behind the Hockeyfest Tournament at the Boston Garden in 1991 and 1992 and played an instrumental role in moving the ECAC Championships to Lake Placid, N.Y., the tournament’s home since 1993.
“The entire ECAC ice hockey community of over 90 programs is heavily indebted to Joe for the tremendous job he’s done for us all,” said Clayton Chapman, Commissioner of the ECAC. “He has given us strong and inspired leadership, taking our ECAC Division I Men’s League to national prominence year in and year out, was a pivotal force in the creation of our successful ECAC Women’s League and Alliance, and in the establishment of the only women’s conference championships in the country.
“Joe Bertagna’s name will always be remembered as synonymous with ECAC Hockey, and we all join in wishing him well as he moves on to new challenges with Hockey East.”
Bertagna, a 1973 graduate of Harvard University, enjoyed a fruitful playing and coaching career as a goaltender. He starred at Harvard under Bill Cleary and at Arlington High School under Eddie Burns. Bertagna played professionally for the Milwaukee Admirals and in Cortina, Italy. He authored “Goaltending,” a textbook on the fundamentals of the position, and “Crimson in Triumph,” a book dedicated to Harvard athletic history.
Bertagna began his coaching career in 1985 with the Boston Bruins, staying with the Bruins as the goaltenders coach until 1991 and rejoining the team for the 1994-95 season. He also has coached with the Milwaukee Admirals (1994-96). Bertagna has operated his own goalie camps in the summer since 1973.
“I am excited with Joe’s decision to become our commissioner,” said Robert M. DeGregorio, Jr., the director of Athletics at Merrimack College and former Hockey East Commissioner. “I have known Joe for many years. I have worked with him both as a commissioner and as an athletic director and I feel his expertise will help move Hockey East into the next century.
“He is well-known and well-respected throughout the hockey community and his expertise will only further enhance the greatness of the Hockey East Association.”