Mark Humphrey/Associated Press
Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson saw his 27-game suspension for domestic violence reduced to 18 games on Thursday.
The NHL and NHL Players Association released a joint statement on the ruling issued by neutral arbitrator Shyam Das:
“The National Hockey League Players’ Association and National Hockey League announced today that Nashville Predators‘ forward Austin Watson’s 27-game suspension issued pursuant to Article 18-A of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement has been reduced by Arbitrator Shyam Das to a suspension covering the first 18 games of the 2018-19 regular season.”
The Predators also issued a statement, which Dan Rosen of NHL.com shared: “Our organization was not involved in the appeal of Austin Watson’s 27-game suspension, but we are aware of its reduction to 18 games. As previously stated, our focus has and will continue to be the health and well-being of Austin and his family.”
This ruling means Watson will be eligible to return to the ice for Nashville’s game on Nov. 15 against the Arizona Coyotes.
According to Pierre LeBrun of TSN, Watson’s appeal hearing was held on Sept. 27 before Das was given time to make a decision.
Paul Skrbina of the Tennessean reported on Sept. 12 that Watson was arrested in June and released on $4,500 bond. The Predators forward was also sentenced to three months probation and issued to attend 26 weeks of batterer intervention.
Watson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor domestic assault in July.
Natalie Neysa Alund and Adam Tamburin of the Tennessean provided more details in August when they cited the police report, which said a witness saw Watson “swat” his girlfriend. The mother of Watson’s child told police he “sometimes he gets handsy,” with her, and this time caused scratches on her chest and bruises and bleeding on her shin.
Mike Brehm of USA Today noted Watson was permitted to take part in Nashville’s pregame introductions on the ice for Tuesday’s home opener despite the suspension.