NHL crit­i­cizes Wat­son de­ci­sion

The Detroit News - - Nhl - Associated Press

New York — 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 (Ann Ar­bor) re­ceived a 27-game 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.

Wat­son was ar­rested June 16 af­ter a wit­ness flagged down a po­lice of­fi­cer to a gas sta­tion in Franklin, Ten­nessee. Wat­son told po­lice he and his girl­friend were ar­gu­ing and that he pushed her. Of­fi­cers said they found red marks on her chest, and she said Wat­son caused them. Wat­son pleaded no con­test to do­mes­tic as­sault on July 24.

He can have the mis­de­meanor charge dis­missed by ful­fill­ing terms of his ju­di­cial di­ver­sion pro­gram.

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