The outrage over the Neal decision is a great example of why, at least on paper, basing penalties on injury caused makes logical sense.
Intent, even on replay, is inherently subjective, and heavily influenced by how the observer feels about the perpetrator. Unless you think Shanny is flat-out lying, he sees something different than we see. I imagine Pittsburgh fans perceive it differently as well.
It's been awhile since I tried to defend the DPS, because I agree it's been a disaster. But trying to punish intent can't be the answer, because it's tilting at windmills to think there will be consensus on anything but the most extreme incidents.
There is an alternative that while harsh, is exactly what the league should go for to end this crap. You punish objective indices of intent. You give little consideration for what a player says. If the stick goes near the head, if the check connects with the jaw, you suspend. You can defend certain actions if a guy suddenly moves and the offender connects with the head because you can see that player's sudden movement on film.
I'll take some of the examples. Neal chipped Giroux's helmet so it became loose. Subjectively, you can argue that Neal was trying to send a warning to Giroux but not make contact with the head. Or maybe he really is a head hunting fuckwad. It doesn't matter. You suspend him a few games because he made contact with the head and he is a repeat offender. Backstrom cross checks Pevs head after the end of play. Maybe he intended to hit the body and got too high. You say fuck it because Backstrom still connected with the head. Now since he isn't a repeat offender, he gets a fine or short suspension.
It's not that hard. You just stop worrying about the accidental part. You judge it based on the form of the hit (leaving your feet, attack on the head, distance skated and momentum gained, etc) and don't give a shit if the player says I didn't mean it. Players will bitch at first and you maintain consistency in the face of it because the ultimate point of the system isn't to punish bad intent but to prevent injury. Players and coaches will bitch that it is changing the game they are used to playing. And of course, that is the point. They are trying to change the game so less players face post concussion symptoms after they retire and so more people will watch.