The Nashville Predators will be without Austin Watson who has been suspended 27 games without pay for “unacceptable off-ice conduct.” Watson will also be missing the preseason for Nashville which starts later this month.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated the following on Watson’s punishment:
“I have determined that Nashville Player Austin Watson engaged in a physical confrontation with his domestic partner. 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 cannot and will not tolerate this and similar types of conduct.”
The NHL is one of the only major sports that doesn’t have a specific rule when handling domestic violence cases. Each case will be handled individually depending on what information is provided.
Back in July, Watson pleaded no to a domestic assault charge. However, the NHL Players’ Association is appealing on Watson’s behalf. The Predators’ forward will be eligible to return to the ice on Dec. 3 if the appeal is not successful.
This past June, Watson was arrested in Tennessee after a witness reported him for a possible domestic situation at a gas station, per a Williamson County court affidavit. At the time, Watson admitted he did push his girlfriend during an argument. The police on the case said red marks were found on her chest, which she reported came from Watson.
The Nashville Predators have issued a statement supporting Watson during his suspension.
“During his suspension, we wish Austin, Jenn, and their baby the best as they take the necessary steps to move forward, with the support of the Nashville Predators, the NHL, the NHLPA and all the collective resources they can provide,” a team representative shared.
With the suspension, the Predators will need another scorer to step up. Last season for Nashville, Watson had his best year with 16 goals. He also had five assists last year in 76 games. During the Predators 13 playoff games, he scored five times while assisting on three goals.