Joe Bertagna, a college hockey administrator for 40 years and goaltending coach for 50, was named recipient of the 2023 Lester Patrick Trophy on Thursday.
Bertagna will be formally honored with the annual award for outstanding service to hockey in the United States during the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Westin Copley Place in Boston on Dec. 6.
"The first time I saw Joe Bertagna, I booed him ... it should be noted that this was 1972 and he was tending goal for Harvard against my beloved Cornell Big Red in Lynah Rink," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "In the many years since, I have come to know Joe as a passionate advocate for our game at all levels throughout the United States. Joe has coached men's and women's teams at his alma mater and has been an innovative goaltending coach on the collegiate, national team and NHL levels for 50 years."
"For his lifetime of service to hockey in the United States, Joe Bertagna is a fitting and deserving recipient of the 2023 Lester Patrick Trophy."
The 71-year-old is in his third year as Commissioner of the Eastern Hockey League and the longest-serving college hockey commissioner in NCAA history. He acted as ECAC hockey commissioner for 15 years (1982-97) and Hockey East commissioner for 23 years (1997-2020). He negotiated a new television contract for Hockey East, organized multiple sold-out events at Fenway Park in Boston, and brought the University of Notre Dame and University of Connecticut into the conference ranks.
Bertagna helped launch the women's program at Harvard University in 1977-78 and was its first coach for two seasons. He also helped form the Hockey East women's league (2002-03) and initiated collegiate league play for Division I and Division III women's programs while with the ECAC.
A native of Arlington, Massachusetts, and star goalie at Arlington High School (1968-69) and Harvard (1970-73), Bertagna was goaltending coach for the Boston Bruins (1985-91), the 1994 United States Olympic Team, the men's national team, and Milwaukee of the International Hockey League (1994-96). He also coached the Harvard men's junior varsity team.