Chapter Seven: Alphabet Soup – AHCA, HCA and NCAA

Overlapping his conference-specific work, Joe also served 30 years (and counting) with the American Hockey Coaches Association. Chapter Seven looks at how college hockey was affected by the AHCA and the NCAA.

One of my favorite award ceremonies came in Tampa in 2016 when the AHCA’s Lou Lamoriello Award was added to the Friday festivities. The award, named after the former Providence player, coach and AD, recognizes a former college hockey player or coach who goes on to a uniquely successful career as an adult. The 2016 recipient was General Mark Milley, then the Secretary of the Army and later the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I had known Mark growing up, even before he went to play hockey at Princeton. So when his motorcade showed up at the Tampa Theater, I was the designated greeter. “Joey Bertagna,” he bellowed as he stepped out of the limousine. “How are ya?”

Moving to the green room where others involved with the evening’s festivities were waiting, he met Harvard’s Jim Vesey, who was about to receive that year’s Hobey Baker Award, and Michigan coach Red Berenson, who had a player among the finalists.

“Red Berenson? I didn’t know you were still alive,” said Milley to a grinning Berenson. He then had some fun with Vesey, suggesting he pass up a pro hockey career and consider a military assignment with Uncle Sam.

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