Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson has been suspended for the entire preseason and first 27 games of the regular NHL season for unacceptable off-ice conduct involving domestic assault.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman imposed the punishment on Wednesday following an investigation by the league and a hearing with Watson, who was allegedly involved in a physical assault incident three months ago.
“I have determined that Nashville Player Austin Watson engaged in a physical confrontation with his domestic partner,” Bettman said in a statement. “Today’s ruling, while tailored to the specific facts of this case and the individuals involved, is necessary and consistent with the NHL’s strongly held view that it cannot and will not tolerate this and similar types of conduct.”
In June, Watson was arrested after allegedly hitting his girlfriend during an argument at a Shell gas station in Franklin. Police officers who were summoned by a witness said they found red marks on the girl’s chest which were presumably left by Wilson during the row.
The 26-year-old player, who was later released on a $4,500 bond, was sentenced to three months’ probation and pleaded no contest to the charges of domestics assault. He will be able to join his team on December 3 in a game against the Buffalo Sabres.
Watson, who will not be paid during the suspension, is estimated to lose about $362,195 of his $1.1 million salary.
The NHL Players Association stated on Wednesday that it intends to file an appeal on behalf of Watson.