League crit­i­cizes re­duced sus­pen­sion

Boston Herald - - NHL SCOREBOARD -

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.

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