Winning the Stanley Cup Final Series is related to incurring fewer penalties for violent behavior

Tex Med. 1999 Apr;95(4):66-9.


Catastrophic and disabling injuries are being reported more frequently in ice hockey. Within the science of injury prevention, all possible avenues are being explored to address this devastating problem, especially in the areas of protective equipment playing rules, teaching techniques, and awareness programs. Ice hockey injuries are in many cases caused by violent player behavior, which may be supported by coaches who believe that such behavior contributes to winning. To determine whether a relationship existed between violent player behavior and game outcome, 1462 recorded penalties from all 18 Stanley Cup Final Series from 1980 through 1997 were analyzed with a 2 x 2 chi-square analysis. A statistically significant association (chi-square = 7.111, P = .008) was found between violent player behavior and series outcome, with the team drawing fewer violent penalty minutes being the winner of 13 of the 18 series. A period-by-period analysis of violent penalties incurred by the losing teams revealed a statistically significant difference between the first and third periods, with losing teams demonstrating more violent player behavior in the first period than in the third period. The results suggest that violent player behavior may be counterproductive to a favorable game outcome. Coaches at the highest level of competition may wish to adjust their team policies and recruiting practices to benefit from the plausible strategic advantage of reducing violent player behavior. This research was presented at the 1998 Ice Hockey World Championship International Symposium on Medicine and Science in Ice Hockey in Zurich, Switzerland, on Saturday, May 9, 1998, and published in the symposium's supplement, "Safety in Ice Hockey IIHF 1998."

MeSH terms

  • Hockey* / injuries
  • Hockey* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North America
  • Violence* / statistics & numerical data