NEW YORK/TORONTO -- The National Hockey League Players' Association and National Hockey League announced today that Nashville Predators' forward Austin Watson's 27-game suspension issued pursuant to Article 18-A of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement has been reduced by Arbitrator Shyam Das to a suspension covering the first 18 games of the 2018-19 regular season.
NHL statement on Watson suspension
"We have reviewed Arbitrator Shyam Das' opinion in the NHLPA's appeal of Austin Watson's suspension for domestic assault which reduced the League-imposed suspension of 27 games to 18 games. We are disappointed with the Arbitrator's decision. We firmly believe that the right of appeal to an arbitrator of League discipline was never intended to substitute the arbitrator's judgment for that of the Commissioner, particularly on matters of important League policy and the articulation of acceptable standards of conduct for individuals involved in the National Hockey League.
"The NHL remains committed to continuing to do what we believe is right. And, in this regard, we intend to continue our steadfast efforts to ensure everyone in our League is adequately educated and sensitized to the importance of this serious social issue. We will not hesitate to adhere to and enforce - through firm discipline as necessary - the standards of personal conduct we feel are appropriate for our League."
Predators' statement on Watson suspension
"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."