NHL suspends Austin Watson 27 games for ‘unacceptable off-ice conduct’

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The NHL suspended Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson for 27 games (along with the entire preseason), describing his June 24 incident as “unacceptable off-ice conduct.” This comes after Watson pleaded no contest to domestic assault charges, receiving three months of probation.

“I have determined that Nashville Player Austin Watson engaged in a physical confrontation with his domestic partner,” NHL Commissioner Gary 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.”

This suspension came after a Friday (Sep. 7) hearing in New York, according to the NHL’s release. The league also noted that Watson, 26, has been suspended without pay.

The Nashville Predators provided this press release following the 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.

The NHLPA announced that an appeal will be made on Watson’s behalf.

Watson is under contract with the Predators through the 2019-20 season.

This thread provides early reports regarding the incident:

This 27-game suspension comes shortly after Nate Schmidt received a 20-game suspension for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. This suspension may be most relevant to former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov’s hopes of returning to the NHL, which is currently an unclear process:

Bill Daly also added that, when it comes to potential discipline for Voynov, “anything and everything is on the table,” according to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.