After deliberation, the NHL has come down on Austin Watson who has been suspended for the first 27 games of the season as well as preseason.
A few days ago, the NHL acknowledged they would be making a final decision on supplementary discipline for the Nashville Predators winger who pled no contest to a domestic assault incident earlier this summer. That decision was handed down on Wednesday as the league announced Watson has been suspended for the entire NHL preseason and over 30% of the NHL' regular season.
With the NHL taking these rulings on in a case-by-case scenario, the suspension is a hefty one and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports the NHLPA intends to appeal the suspension.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said the suspension handed to Watson was tailored to his specific case but "consistent with the NHL's strongly held view that it cannot and will not tolerate this and similar types of conduct." Cleary, the league was intending to send a strong message.
The NHL does have a proven track record of being swift and heavy on these types of incidences. Former NHL defenseman Slava Voynov is still working to make a return to the NHL after being booted from the league and heading back to Russia for his domestic abuse charges in 2014. Despite his desire to return, he may never make it back to the NHL.
Watson plea of no contest came after allegedly pushing his girlfriend at a gas station altercation. She claimed the marks on her chest were made by Waston and the NHL clearly ruled in favor of the fact that Watson did violate their strict policies. In July, he was given three months of probation and was placed on judicial diversion. Should he comply with all of the terms set, his case will be expunged.
Watson suspension will be served immediately and he will not be paid and forfeit somewhere in the neighborhood of $360,000. If his suspension is not reduced via appeal, he will be eligible to return to Nashville’s lineup on December 3rd.