Skip to main content

Hockey NHL says it is ‘disappointed’ that arbitrator reduced Austin Watson’s suspension for domestic assault

The NHL is criticizing an arbitrator’s decision to reduce the suspension of Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson, who pleaded no contest in July to a domestic-assault charge.

Watson received a 27-game suspension from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman last month. The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced on Thursday that arbitrator Shyam Das had reduced it to 18 games.

The NHL issued a statement on Friday saying it was "disappointed with the arbitrator’s decision.”

Story continues below advertisement

“We firmly believe that the right of appeal to an arbitrator of League discipline was never intended to substitute the arbitrator’s judgment for that of the Commissioner, particularly on matters of important League policy and the articulation of acceptable standards of conduct for individuals involved in the National Hockey League,” the NHL said in its statement.

The NHL added that it “will not hesitate to adhere to and enforce – through firm discipline as necessary — the standards of personal conduct we feel are appropriate for our league.”

The NHL doesn’t have a written domestic-violence policy and takes each situation on a case-by-case basis.

Watson was arrested on June 16 after a witness flagged down a police officer to a gas station in Franklin, Tenn. Watson told police he and his girlfriend were arguing and that he pushed her. Officers said they found red marks on her chest, and she said Watson caused them. Watson pleaded no contest to domestic assault on July 24.

He can have the misdemeanour charge dismissed by fulfilling terms of his judicial diversion program. Watson must serve three months of probation and complete both an in-patient treatment program and a batterer’s intervention program.

Watson is a former first-round draft pick who scored a career-high 14 goals and had five assists in 76 games during the 2017-18 regular season. He had five goals and three assists in 13 playoff games.

The 26-year-old has 23 goals and 24 assists in 216 career regular-season games, all with the Predators.

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter