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October 14, 2009

As you well know, we’re not gigantic fans of this whole “Hockey East” arrangement.

Obviously it’s great to be in, let’s face it, the best top-to-bottom college hockey conference in the country, one with a great television deal and lots of exposure in both the United States and Canada. The league’s status as a player-development factory is second only to that of the WCHA and as a result, some of the best 18-to-25-year-old players in the world come right through our back yard. Lowell, consequently, benefits from its Hockey East membership in this way; players that wouldn’t normally come to Lowell will do so simply because it is a Hockey East school.

What we don’t like, however, is the way in which the league bends over backwards to accommodate the Big Three, particularly Boston College and Boston University. We understand that those two schools, as well as UNH, are where the league’s bread is buttered and don’t begrudge them that. However, it is also in the league’s best interest (or so they would have us believe) to treat all 10 teams as equals, and they don’t.

Further evidence of this came in the latest Hockey East Weekly Release, which gave out a number of awards to wholly undeserving candidates (James Marcou, for example), and also trotted out a revolting new feature, “COMMISSIONERS CORNER WITH JOE BERTAGNA.” Now, we have a special degree of hate in our hearts reserved for Mr. Bertagna for a number of reasons, which are all conveniently exhibited within the four paragraphs’ worth of tripe his “CORNER” produced in one measly go-round. We’ll get into in those in a moment here, but let’s just say for now that the smug way in which he patronizes the non-Big Three teams is especially rage-inducing and we’ll get to more in a minute.


By the way, the title alone gives us an idea: Let’s play “Spot the Egregious Grammatical Error” with this post, just for fun. The lack of an apostrophe on “Commissioner’s” is the first.

It was exactly 40 years ago this month that I first stepped on the ice as a college freshman, starting a career in college hockey that continues to today.

A thing we loathe about Joe Bertagna: His “LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE TIME THAT I PLAYED COLLEGE HOCKEY AT A LITTLE SCHOOL YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD OF. IT’S CALLED HARVARD. EVER HEARD OF IT?” attitude. We know, Joe. You were a goalie at Harvard back in the 1920s. Having read that first sentence, we had to ⌘+F to make sure we hadn’t missed yet another mention of your alma mater. We don’t begrudge your going there, it is, of course, an incredibly excellent institution. We do, however, begrudge your bringing it up every five minutes as though we should care, especially around Beanpot time. (By the way you would think a Harvard-educated man would know that “to today” is not an acceptable prepositional phrase, which is, of course, his second Egregious Grammatical Error in as many sentences.)

The start of the season remains an exciting mix of the familiar and the new.

Thanks for this entirely needless sentence. We got it.

We welcome the site of returning players we enjoyed the year before. Our eyes catch a glimpse of why highly touted freshmen were so heavily recruited. We run into people we last saw in late March or early April.

Site/sight. That’s three. Ending a sentence with a preposition. That’s four. Also we seem to only welcome the “site” of the returning players, and not the players themselves. Not technically a grammatical error, but certainly the hallmark of someone trying to write lofty horsecrap, same with “our eyes catch a glimpse,” which is of course bad writing since it’s unlikely that our ears or nose were going to see anything.  You are, by the way, Joe, allowed to use conjunctions to join two or more clearly-linked thoughts into one sentence. “I like cats. I like dogs.” This is the kind of writing you’re doing here.

Every team has a chance for a special year.

Except not really.

On to the next paragraph, then, which is full of an old-time hockey guy pining for the simpler days in a sufficiently irritating manner.

Believe it or not,

We already don’t!

there was a time when the start of the season coincided with Thanksgiving, not with the opening games of the Major League Baseball postseason.

That is pretty unbelievable, or, as the kids would say, izzoff the hizzook.

But here we are, checking scores of the Patriots, the Bruins, the Red Sox and our favorite college hockey team all at the same time.


It is a much-welcomed ritual, checking scores.

Really? A ritual? You’re lending undue gravity to opening a web browser on your BlackBerry or iPhone to see if the Rams covered the spread on the road against Seattle (they didn’t, and it totally blew up your nine-team parlay for 30Gs to recoup your losses from putting it all on Oakland -8 and taking the over like a moron).

But how we check them has changed so much in recent years. We used to call press boxes or wait until the morning paper arrived. Now mobile devices let us check updated scores in real time. Real time video on our hand held devices will soon be the norm.

We can just imagine Joe Bertagna sitting in his tiny office when his league-issue BlackBerry starts vibrating on the desk next to what he calls his “IBM compatible,” which he won’t touch except to play Minesweeper and Solitaire (COMMISSIONERS CORNER, as a consequence, is written by Bertagna’s personal scrivener, an odd young man named Bartleby who, when done sprinkling sand on the still-drying ink, hustles the copy down to an adjoining office, where one of Hockey East’s crack employees spends four hours trying to decipher it). His eyes grow big as saucers and he throws it against the wall, screaming, “WHAT DEMONRY CAN THIS BE!?” Somewhere down the hall, Kathy Wynters sighs.

Hockey East fans will have another new feature before long.

The first feature, again, being “the smartphone,” which apparently is something invented by Bertagna himself for exclusive use by season ticket holders at eight of the 10 Hockey East schools (they’re working on it, Vermont and Maine fans).

Since the end of last season, the ten Hockey East athletic directors voted to install video replay equipment at all ten arenas. Some are up and running and the rest will be before the end of October.

Just enough time for Lowell to get cheated against BU, which it plays on Oct. 30 and 31, one or two more times. Lucky us.

Each rink will be equipped with overhead cameras above the goals

As opposed to those overhead cameras below the ice.

and a center ice camera to give officials multiple angles on all goals. Only the referee can initiate a replay and he will be governed by NCAA rules as to what he can review.

See also: goals that would help BU, BC or UNH. Goals that would help the other seven teams in Hockey East? Not so much, we’re sure.

A monitor at ice level will allow him to see the different camera angles as well as the time on the clock. There are also audio capabilities to assist in those situations where hearing a whistle could affect the outcome of a play.

We wonder where they got this idea.

This should be a great tool for all officials in their quest to “get it right.”

And THIS is the disrespect we’re talking about. This is already a great tool for all officials in their quest to “get it right.” At least it was last March when Lowell was directly screwed by this. What we basically have here is the league admitting it screwed Lowell out of perhaps the most important goal in the history of the program, but, sickeningly, not actually saying it did so. We do, however, like the inclusion of quotation marks around the phrase “get it right” because that’s simply not something in which the league is actually interested. We’ve seen goals by non-Big Whatever teams get overturned time and again, including several times last in the last three years against Maine, BC and BU alone, and we think you’d be hard-pressed to find an instance in which those three teams or UNH had a goal, fraudulent or not, called back against anyone but each other.

Further, and we don’t necessarily like bringing it up all the time (well, yeah, we do actually, but that’s not the point here), but this Non-Apology has now reached absurd heights. The league has gone so far as to install video equipment to ensure teams like Lowell — or, if you prefer, teams that are specifically Not Lowell — never have to face such grave injustice again, unless, of course BU, BC or UNH need a W.

Let’s go back to 2005, when all this silliness began to take hold. Here is an actual and real sentence typed by Joe Bertagna vis a vis Lowell’s goal against Amherst in what wound up being a meaningless regular-season game. “That situation,” sayeth he, “I thought, was egregious and handed a goal to Lowell in what ended up as a one goal loss for UMass. I think the officials’ jobs are tough enough without a commissioner throwing them under the bus on a regular basis. But in some cases, just as coaches and players are held accountable, so too should the refs.” Interesting, then, that none of the parties involved in that whole fiasco were ever publically censured. While it certainly didn’t award BU “a goal in what ended up as a one goal for [Lowell]” it subtracted one for the River Hawks in “what ended up as” exactly the same thing only, obviously, with far greater consequences, since it cheated Lowell out of not only a chance to win a championship that it actually tied, but also a shot at an automatic NCAA berth.

All we want, nay, DEMAND at this point as a deserved public apology like the one Amherst got. It’s honestly the least Bertagna could do short of apologizing to us personally. However, this latest slap in the face, we’ve decided, warrants action beyond the usual thrashing in this feature that those offensive few usually catch. As such, Joe Bertagna has earned himself a Level. And we don’t mean one of the seven preexisting Levels, because he’s already on the Dead to Us list and moving him to Never Existed would be to erase all the travesties with which he has wounded us over the years.

No, Kommissar Bertagna will, as of this posting, be moved to a new Level that he himself may commission all he likes. And this Level, unlike the others, out of which all Disrespectors can beg with varying degrees of contrition and in some cases gifts, is irrevocable.

Joe Bertagna is, and shall always be, our Eternal Archnemesis.

Let’s go back to his CORNER.

So here we go, ready to start league play in this our 26th season of Hockey East. We have been spoiled in recent years by enjoying a pair of national championships. Whether a third is in the cards or not, let’s enjoy another ride.

Our moles at Hockey East HQ reveal that this phrase was cut out of the final edition of the CORNER: “Unless you’re not BU, BC or UNH, in which case you can feel free to crap in your hats.”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2009 3:22 am

    I disagree with you about James Marcou. Seeing as how he had four assists in one game last week, he is far from a “wholly undeserving candidate.”

  2. RHHB permalink
    October 15, 2009 3:43 am

    What a shocking stance for you to take!

    We’re sorry, but four assists against No. Nothing RP-f’n-I at home is not as good, to us, as Chris Barton’s three goals in two games against No. 6 North Dakota in Grand Forks, or Brayden Irwin’s four points against No. 1 Denver in Colorado.

    We understand, however, that UNH alum/pom-pom waver Pete Souris picks these things (watch, next time, and see what meager accomplishments Durham-based players need to make to get “honorable mention” or whatever they’re calling it these days. It’s revolting), so since his dear Wildcats lost to RPI, then the Engineers must, therefore, be a powerhouse against whom four points is a Sisyphusian accomplishment.

    Don’t get us wrong, it’s alright. It’s just not worth Player of the Week given what other players accomplished against vastly superior teams.


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