Late Wednesday the National Hockey League announced that Austin Watson of the Nashville Predators would be suspended all of the preseason action and 27 games in the regular season.
Now just in case you’ve forgotten all about Austin Watson and what’s been going on, let’s refresh your memory. Watson was arrested back in June after getting into an altercation with his girlfriend and plead no-contest to the charges in July.
Since the NHL doesn’t have a set policy on how to handle domestic violence incidents with their players, this ruling was based solely on the facts of the case. So based on the facts of the case being that “Watson engaged in a physical confrontation with his partner” Commissioner Gary Bettman decided that Watson will sit out preseason and twenty seven games in the regular season.
It seems like a fair punishment until you dig deeper on Twitter and find out that Watson’s girlfriend said that Watson has done this before the June incident and he just happened to get caught this time, but who knows maybe this suspension will help him get his anger under control and make him a better partner to his girlfriend especially as they get ready the birth of their baby.
Watson is only serving seven games longer than a player caught using performance enhancing drugs, which is odd considering the differences in severity of the offenses. I think that being involved in any type of domestic violence with a partner would carry a heavier suspension than PED usage because it’s violence against another person instead of a physical edge to win games.
But the NHL is still taking proactive measures with this case to set the precedent for the future. I wouldn’t be surprised that the next time a player does something similar to the Watson case the league will be able to act swiftly and deliver a suspension if necessary.