HOCKEY SUSPENSIONS—INTENT AND INJURY. The National Hockey League playoffs began with a lot of injuries, a lot of suspensions and a lot of controversy. Hockey has a dilemma. It’s a dangerous game. Eric Lindros, one of the greatest players of the 90’s had many problems with concussions (wikipedia article here). Sidney Crosby, one of the greatest players today, has missed long stretches of games because of concussions (wikipedia article here). Yet many fans prefer “playoff hockey” with lots of hits. This post from a hockey website sums up: “The 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been a unique brand of brutal. There’s rough stuff in nearly every series, including a half-dozen line brawls. Fighting is up; and, of course, so are the ratings.”

In determining suspensions, should the NHL take into account whether a player was injured? Should it take into account whether there was intent to injure? There has been a lot of discussion; for example, here. I seem to be in the minority on both issues. If the NHL is serious about reducing injuries, it should downplay intent and give more weight to injuries. The problem with making intent a major factor in discipline is that officials are understandably reluctant to accuse somebody of intent to injure. Consequently, emphasizing intent is inconsistent with reducing injuries. On the other hand, focusing on injury caused will make players more careful. A player penalized for causing an injury may rightly feel that he was unlucky, but the injured player was also unlucky.

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