Nashville Predators forward Auston Watson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charge of domestic assault which led the National Hockey League into launching an investigation into the case. Now the NHL doesn’t have a set policy for players accused of domestic assault, unlike pretty much every other major North American professional leagues.
Honestly it’s a good thing.
If you think about it, by not having a set policy the NHL is able to look at each case differently which is important. Not every domestic assault case in the same and shouldn’t be treated the same way. Sure, there would be some base similarities in term of punishment like treatment for anger, etc. But each case should be treated differently to ensure that each player is given a fair punishment for their actions.
So by not having a set policy the NHL is able to take a deep hard look at each case and decide the appropriate punishment for the offender. It’s kind of like the judicial system already, not every single person convicted of domestic assault is given the same sentence, there are several factors that go into deciding the punishment for the offender.
Plus by not having a set policy the NHL will hopefully avoid the PR disaster the National Football League always has when they announce the punishments for guys who have offenses against women (like Jameis Winston’s measly three game suspension for assaulting a female UBER driver).
Now Watson’s case where he admitted to pushing his girlfriend during an argument at a gas station is different from say that of Slava Voynov formerly with the Los Angeles Kings was arrested after a fight with his wife following a Halloween party when she told police that it wasn’t the first time Voynov had put her hands on her. Voynov plead no contest to a corporal punishment to a spouse and after his contract was terminated he volunitarily decided to return to his native Russia. If you want more information on the case with the recent developments, Emily Kaplan did a fantastic article on ESPN that you can read here.
Now since these two incidents are different, they should be treated differently but fairly if that makes any sense. I understand that the league not having a set policy could show that they’re soft on domestic violence leaning more towards believing the player’s version of events, but what I’m saying is that it’s impossible to have a one size fits all policy for offenses like this. It’s not like a guy getting busted for a Performance Enhancing Drug, this involves two parties and should be treated in the fairest way possible for the victim.
I will keep you posted on what happens with both Watson and Voynov and who knows that outcome of these cases might drastically change my opinion.