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From The Desk Of Joe Bertagna - October 2018

Joe BertagnaThe following is an excerpt from Joe Bertagna's column in Stops and Starts:

Hockey's loss is football's gain. As you can see from the first-person story that begins on Page One, Ty Halpin is moving from skates to cleats inside the NCAA. A talented and affable administrator, Halpin worked with numerous iterations of the NCAA Men's and Women's Ice Hockey Rules Committee and proved himself a reliable facilitator for numerous committee chairs, including this writer.

"I want to wish Ty all the best in his new position," said Miami head coach Rico Blasi, a former Rules Committee chair and currently the President of the AHCA. "His passion and commitment for ice hockey will be missed. Working with him as chair of the Ice Hockey Rules Committee was a great experience. His professionalism and integrity for the game were constantly on display. He has helped shape the game we know today with his leadership and guidance. Thank you, Ty, from all of us in college hockey."

Halpin, a 1996 graduate of the University of Kentucky, was first hired by the NCAA in 1999. A journalism major, he combined that training with his love of hockey to become a real asset to our sport.

Said former Michigan State head coach, and CCHA Commissioner, Tom Anastos, another Rules Committee chair, "Ty's contribution to our sport has been significant. In dealing with Ty, I always admired how he was able to find the right balance of respecting and valuing the traditions of the game, yet always fostering a progressive mindset in search of new ways to continue to improve it. Ty has been a terrific ambassador for the game."

A different kind of loss was felt when the great John Gagliardi passed away on October at the age of 91. The winningest coach in college football history, Gagliardi shared his wisdom and wit with the college hockey community when he spoke at the 2003 Convention in Naples.

Gagliardi began his coaching career in 1949 and spent six decades (1953-2012) at Division III Saint John's University in Minnesota. He retired with a record of 489-138-11 and surpassed Eddie Robinson for the career wins record in 2003, piling up four national titles at Saint John's along the way. He also had a brief stint as the Johnnies' ice hockey coach.

"It was sad to hear of John's passing," said former St. John's head coach John Harrington, now women's head coach at Minnesota State. "He touched a lot of lives, including mine. Always enjoyed talking with him about his other coaching accomplishments, particularly his five seasons as St. John's hockey coach and his 42-25-1 record. He reminded me that his winning percentage was higher than mine. I also recall his theory of coaching track. 'Stay to the left and hurry back.' John was the Athletic Director at St. John's University when I was hired as head hockey coach, and I'll always be indebted to him for giving me my first opportunity to be a head coach in college hockey."

Gagliardi used an unconventional coaching style that included no tackling in practice or lengthy calisthenics. No whistles or wind sprints. There were no team captains, either, unless you count the honor shared by the seniors. He insisted that his players just call him John, not Coach, at a school that doesn't offer scholarships. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. Since 1993, Division III's outstanding player of the year has taken home the Gagliardi Trophy.

In announcing his death, John's daughter, Gina Gagliardi Benson wrote, "In honor of John, please make an effort to do what was effortless for John: compliment your spouse many, many times today; listen intently to others; and 'Be interested, not interesting.' See the best in others."

– Joe Bertagna


Joe's full column is available in each edition of Stops and Starts - The Official Publication of the American Hockey Coaches Association. Each AHCA Member has access to current and archived editions of Stops and Starts in our Member's Only Section and can read Joe's full column in each edition of Stops and Starts.