New assistant specializes in strength, conditioning
`Some of the greatest athletes,' trained by Trinca, including Crosby and Malkin
In a span of seven NHL seasons, the Pittsburgh Penguins never missed the post-season, and they also captured consecutive Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017.
Then came 2022-23 and the sobering realization of how hard it is to just get to the second season. The Penguins were one victory shy of an Eastern Conference wild card berth. That put the failed pursuit into perspective.
It takes a lot to maintain that level of drive and desire. Premier players have delivered on a regular basis and go well beyond expectations in playoff crunch time. Their levels of strength and fitness must be optimal to withstand a twomonth Stanley Cup slog that produces mental strain and physical pain.
The revamped Vancouver Canucks hockey operations department and coaching staff have direct connections to the Penguins and understand that grind.
Those who made the leap from the Penguins to the Canucks are president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford, general manager Patrik Allvin, assistant GM Derek Clancy, director of player personnel Scott Young, head coach Rick Tocchet and coaching consultant Sergei Gonchar.
It now includes another transplant in Alex Trinca, who will assume the role of Canucks director of sport performance. He replaces Bryan Marshall, who had a number of roles in the last 14 seasons, including director of applied sport science since 2019.
Trinca spent the past seven years with the Penguins as strength and conditioning coach and his arrival is timely with where the franchise needs to see advancements.
Since Tocchet took over the bench in late January, he constantly has called for a better level of strength and fitness to increase the compete level. He said this has to be a summer like none other for roster hopefuls to really put in the work.
“If you want to play a fast style, you've got to be in shape,” Tocchet stressed. “I think this team has another level of fitness and I'm going to attack that. I'm not saying guys are out of shape, but there's another level.
“I want us to have more handson with these guys. I'd like to see more hang around more and not just pop in and out. I'd like to see guys get here early — like a month before training camp — and not a few days before. That's what I believe in.
“The Cups we won when I was an assistant in Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby would show up three or four weeks before camp and there would be 25 guys there (training). ... I'm not saying guys can't take off for weekends and stuff, it's just very important that we establish that culture here.”
Trinca was responsible for the design and implementation of training systems for the Penguins' players and also the sports science side to assist with load management, injury risk mitigation and performance nutrition.
“Alex has an impressive resumé, including nearly eight years in the NHL and several more with private sports performance practices,” Allvin said.
“He has worked with some of the greatest athletes.”
Trinca reached Evgeni Malkin on professional and personal levels to exact maximum and sustainable performance from the hulking winger. Trinca would travel to Russia in the off-season to work with Malkin. It resulted in a strong 2019-20 season before COVID-19 shut down the league in March. He had 74 points (25-49) in the first 55 games.
I’m not saying guys can’t take off for weekends and stuff, it’s just very important that we establish that culture here.