Nashville Predators’ Austin Watson suspended for 27 games over domestic violence

Ruben Hill
September 13, 2018

Predators forward Austin Watson was suspended 27 games by the NHL Wednesday for "unacceptable off-ice conduct", the league announced. "Today's ruling, while tailored to the specific facts of this case and the individuals involved, is necessary and consistent with the NHL's strongly held view that it can not and will not tolerate this and similar types of conduct".

"The NHLPA will be filing an appeal on behalf of Austin Watson".

Watson was subsequently charged with misdemeanor domestic assault, to which he entered a no contest plea in late-July, resulting in three months' probation, 26 weeks of a batterer intervention course, a treatment program for drugs and alcohol and a promise to maintain peaceful contact with his girlfriend. In June, the 26-year-old was arrested at a gas station outside Nashville after having allegedly struck his girlfriend. Police officers who were summoned by a witness said they found red marks on the girl's chest which were presumably left by Wilson during the row.

Prosecutors proceeded, however, because there were witness, according to the CBC.

The NHL is the only one of the four major North American sports not to have a domestic violence policy, instead judging cases on a case-by-case basis (the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players allows the NHL to suspend players who are under criminal investigation).

The Predators issued a statement saying the organization "supported and worked closely" with the NHL's investigation on Watson.

The NHL also is working on another domestic violence case. Watson will be eligible to rejoin the team on December 3 against Buffalo. Slava Voynov is now still suspended indefinitely for a 2014 incident.

The Predators won the President's Trophy last season with Watson scoring 14 goals and adding five assists, and he tied for fifth in scoring in the postseason with eight points in 13 games as Nashville lost the Western Conference semifinals to Winnipeg in seven games.

Watson has played in 216 career regular-season games, all with the Predators. He remains suspended to this day, though ESPN's Emily Kaplan reports that he's seeking reinstatement.

The quiet summer months are finally drifting by as National Hockey League training camps begin soon.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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