The Hockey East Association has extended the contract of Commissioner Joe Bertagna through the 2010-2011 season, it was announced Tuesday by Dana Skinner, Director of Athletics at Massachusetts-Lowell.
Bertagna, 56, came to Hockey East in 1997 after 15 years with the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). He is the longest-serving commissioner in Hockey East’s 24-year history.
“Hockey East continues to be regarded as one of the finest hockey conferences in the country, and Joe deserves considerable credit for that,” said Dana Skinner, Chair of the Hockey East Executive Committee. “His passion for the sport of hockey combined with his extensive insight of collegiate athletics will prove valuable as the league establishes new standards of excellence in the coming years.”
A native of Arlington, Mass., Bertagna has forged a unique career in ice hockey, combining a quarter-century of college hockey administrative work with 35 years of coaching goaltenders of all ages, from youth hockey through the National Hockey League. He started his administrative work with the ECAC in 1982, carrying a number of titles and overseeing 90 men’s and women’s programs in Divisions I and III. His accomplishments at the ECAC included the league’s first television package, the first hockey-only corporate sponsorships, and the establishment of the first U.S. women’s intercollegiate ice hockey leagues.
Bertagna made his mark immediately at Hockey East, engineering a multi-year television deal in his first month on the job. Shortly thereafter, league tournament attendance rocketed forward, leading to the event’s first-ever sellout in 2000. Bertagna was also instrumental in bringing about the formation of the Hockey East Women’s League, just as he initiated league play for both Division I and Division III women’s programs while with the ECAC.
Nationally, Bertagna has served as the Executive Director of the American Hockey Coaches Association since 1991. In that role, he has overseen the growth of AHCA membership from just under 300 members in 1992 to over 1,300 members today. He also served a four-year term on the NCAA Ice Hockey Rules Committee, the final two years as chairman. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation and USA Hockey.
The 1973 Harvard graduate has enjoyed a fruitful playing and coaching career. After starring in goal at Arlington (Mass.) High School, Bertagna went on to Harvard and played for Hall of Fame coaches Ralph “Cooney” Weiland and Bill Cleary. A two-year starter (1971-73), he led the Ivy League with a 2.45 GAA in 1972. After Harvard, Bertagna played professionally for the Milwaukee Admirals and in Cortina, Italy. While in Italy, he led his S.G. Cortina d’Ampezzo squad to the 1975 Italian Championship.
Considered one of the most influential goaltender coaches in North America, Bertagna has been coaching goalies of all ages for 35 years. He has operated his own summer goalie camps since 1973, attracting nearly 300 goaltenders annually to the Boston area. His articles and DVDs have reached thousands of goalies in North America. He began his professional goalie coaching career in 1985 with the Boston Bruins, staying with the Bruins as the goaltender coach until 1991 and rejoining the team for the 1994-95 season. He also has coached with Team USA (1991 Canada Cup and 1994 Winter Olympics) and with the Milwaukee Admirals (1994-96).
A talented writer, Bertagna edited “Crimson in Triumph,” a book dedicated to Harvard athletic history. He also edited two successful issues of “Not The Boston Globe,” a newspaper parody sold throughout New England in the mid-1980’s. His creative skills have also led him into broadcasting, freelance writing and producing highlight videos for Harvard and the Boston Bruins. He continues to contribute to the college hockey community as a writer.
Bertagna enjoyed a brief college coaching career at Harvard 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 reside in Gloucester with their three children, Bobby (11), Joey (9) and Grace (6).