Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna is in his 34th year as a college hockey administrator. This season marks his 19th 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 and is currently the longest serving hockey commissioner in the NCAA. In February of 2015, Hockey East directors extended Bertagna's contract through the 2016-17 season as a direct response to a number of triumphs for the conference, including a successful hosting of the 2015 NCAA Frozen Four in Boston, a new television contract, multiple sold-out events at Fenway Park, and the addition of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Connecticut to the conference membership.
Bertagna has also written numerous books on goaltending as well as a pictorial history of Harvard University athletics. In the mid-1980's, Bertagna also edited two editions of, "Not The Boston Globe," a successful parody of the daily newspaper which sold throughout New England.
However he is probably best known for his administrative work in college hockey. 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 seven men's national championships, including 2015 champion Providence College and five of the last eight, and regularly enjoying post-season accolades for many of its student-athletes. Seven of the last 15 players recognized as "Hobey Hat Trick" honorees have come from Hockey East schools, including last year's winner, Boston University's Jack Eichel.
Media coverage has soared under Bertagna's direction, as evidenced most recently by his engineering national deals with the American Sports Network for regular season coverage and with the NBC Sports Network for the championship weekend. Alongside these deals, Bertagna has maintained a strong relationship with the New England Sports Network (NESN) for regional coverage of both regular season and post-season games.
Bertagna has also delivered a number of high profile special events for Hockey East member schools. During the 2015-16 season, UMass Lowell and Northeastern University will play in the Friendship Four Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend in Belfast Northern Ireland, along with Brown University and Colgate University. One of two Notre Dame at UConn games scheduled for the upcoming season will be moved from Hartford to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on November 1.
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.
Another major contribution on the national stage has come in his continuing role with the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA). The commissioners of the six NCAA Division I men's ice hockey conferences have launched a number of initiatives that have helped grow the game at the national and international levels. In recent years, Bertagna was instrumental in securing funds for the formation of College Hockey, Inc., the marketing arm of the HCA.
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.
As a player, Bertagna began at Arlington (Mass.) High School, before going on to Harvard University. During his early career, he played for and learned from four Hall of Fame coaches: Ed Burns at Arlington, and Ralph "Cooney" Weiland, Bill Cleary and Tim Taylor 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.
Bertagna and his wife Kathy, a two-sport athlete at Bates College, reside in Gloucester with their three children, Bobby (19), Joey (17) and Grace (14).