League slams de­ci­sion to cut wat­son’s ban

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS - NHL NOTE­BOOK

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 27game sus­pen­sion from NHL com­mis­sioner gary Bettman last month. the NHL and NHL Play­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion an­nounced thurs­day that ar­bi­tra­tor Shyam das had re­duced it to 18 games.

the NHL is­sued a state­ment Fri­day say­ing that “we are dis­ap­pointed with the ar­bi­tra­tor’s de­ci­sion.”

“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 “we 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.

the NHLPA also re­leased a state­ment Fri­day, say­ing: “the NHLPA takes do­mes­tic vi­o­lence se­ri­ously and con­tin­ues to work to­gether with the NHL to en­sure that play­ers are ed­u­cated on this im­por­tant so­ci­etal is­sue. ”as part of those ef­forts, the NHL/NHLPA con­duct do­mes­tic vi­o­lence aware­ness train­ing at our rookie Ori­en­ta­tion Pro­gram and dur­ing the sea­son for all NHL play­ers.

“the cba pro­vides play­ers with the right to ap­peal dis­ci­pline im­posed by the NHL for off-ice con­duct to an im­par­tial ar­bi­tra­tor. this es­sen­tial right is in­tended to en­cour­age the fair and con­sis­tent ap­pli­ca­tion of dis­ci­pline. the ar­bi­tra­tor’s in­de­pen­dence helps en­sure that the process and de­ci­sion are fair. that is a prin­ci­ple to which we should al­ways strive to ad­here, even in cases where the sub­ject mat­ter is as dif­fi­cult as do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.”

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

habs SWITCH THINGS up

It’s only three games into the sea­son and Mon­treal cana­di­ens coach Claude Julien al­ready is jug­gling his lines.

the main rea­son is that Jonathan drouin still is look­ing for his first point af­ter be­ing moved from cen­tre to wing this sea­son and has only five shots on goal with a mi­nus-1 while av­er­ag­ing 16:38 of ice time per game. drouin was also held with­out a point in the four pre­sea­son games he played while go­ing mi­nus-6.

drouin started the sea­son play­ing left wing on a line with rookie cen­tre Jes­peri Kotkaniemi and Joel ar­mia on the right wing, but Julien started jug­gling his lines dur­ing Mon­treal’s 3-0 loss to the Los an­ge­les Kings on thurs­day. at prac­tice Fri­day, drouin was on a line with Max domi at cen­tre and art­turi Lehko­nen on right wing. Kotkaniemi now finds him­self play­ing be­tween Paul Byron and ar­mia.

“I think we need to see pro­duc­tion (from drouin),” Julien said af­ter Fri­day’s prac­tice. “I guess that’s ob­vi­ous to ev­ery­body.”

ha­ley leaves PAN­THERS

Florida Pan­thers for­ward Micheal ha­ley has en­tered the NHL/NHL Play­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion as­sis­tance pro­gram.

the NHL and union said Fri­day that Ha­ley will be away from the team while tak­ing part in the pro­gram.

“Michael is a val­ued part of our team and Pan­thers fam­ily,” dale Tal­lon, the Pan­thers’ pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager, said in a state­ment. “He has our full sup­port as he takes the time he needs to tend to this mat­ter.”

the 32-year-old Ha­ley had three goals and six as­sists in 75 games last sea­son for the Pan­thers. He has eight goals and 17 as­sists in 205 ca­reer NHL games.

Ha­ley last played in the pre­sea­son fi­nale Sept. 30.

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