Austin Watson’s 27-game suspension for domestic violence has been reduced to 18 games by an arbitrator, the NHL and NHLPA said in a joint statement Thursday evening.
The Nashville Predators’ forward was suspended 27 games by the NHL in September for “unacceptable off-ice conduct”.
Commissioner Gary Bettman issued the suspension following an investigation by the NHL and an in-person hearing in New York to determine the relevant facts and circumstances relating to a 2018 offseason incident involving Watson and his domestic partner.
The incident ultimately resulted in Watson pleading no contest to a charge of domestic assault on July 24, 2018.
Watson allegedly pushed his girlfriend and “inflicted marks on her” during an argument at a Shell gas station on Murfreesboro Road.
” I have determined that Nashville player Austin Watson engaged in a physical confrontation with his domestic partner,” Bettman said back in September. “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.”
The NHL Players Association announced afterwards that they would appeal the suspension.
The Predators organization said Thursday that they had no involvement in the appeal process to get the suspension reduced:
“Our organization was not involved in the appeal of Austin Watson’s 27-game suspension, but we are aware of its reduction to 18 games. As previously stated, our focus has and will continue to be the health and well-being of Austin and his family.”
Watson will now be eligible to return to action Nov. 15 against the Coyotes.