League criticizes reduced suspension
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 Players Association announced Thursday that arbitrator Shyam Das reduced it to 18 games .
The NHL issued a statement yesterday 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.
Watson is a former first-round draft pick who scored a career-high 14 goals and five assists in 76 games last season. He had five goals and three assists in 13 playoff games.
The 26-year-old Watson has 23 goals and 24 assists in 216 career games, all with the Predators.
Elsewhere in the NHL — Florida center Micheal Haley will be away from the team indefinitely while taking part in the NHL and NHL Players Association’s player assistance program for undisclosed reasons. Haley has not appeared in a game this season.
The 32-year-old led the NHL with 212 penalty minutes last season, while scoring three goals and adding six assists. The NHL says it will have no further comment on Haley being away from the team.