Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson has been suspended for all preseason and the first 27 games of the 2018-19 regular season, without pay, for unacceptable off-ice conduct, the National Hockey League announced on Wednesday.
Predators forward Austin Watson plead "no contest" to domestic assault charges today in Williamson County Court.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman levied the suspension under Rule 18-A of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The Commissioner’s ruling came following an investigation by the league and an in-person hearing in New York on Sept. 7.
The investigation and hearing were conducted to determine the relevant facts and circumstances relating to a June 16 incident involving Watson and his domestic partner. Watson eventually pleaded no contest to a charge of domestic assault on July 24.
“I have determined that Nashville player Austin Watson engaged in a physical confrontation with his domestic partner,” Bettman said in a news release. “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 Predators issued a statement following the commissioner’s announcement.
“The Nashville Predators supported and worked closely with the National Hockey League investigation regarding Austin Watson. During his suspension, we wish Austin, Jenn and their baby the best as they take the necessary steps to move forward, with the support of the Nashville Predators, the NHL, the NHLPA, and all the collective resources they can provide. Our commitment to AMEND is the same today as it was when we partnered six years ago with the mission of making Nashville the safest city for girls and women. We will continue to evolve and grow our programming to work toward this shared objective.”
Wilson would be eligible to return to the team for the Dec. 3 home game against Buffalo.
The Predators’ training camp opens on Thursday.
The NHL does not have a written domestic abuse policy and has chosen to judge each incident separately. Slava Voynov is currently still suspended indefinitely for a 2014 incident.