Will Watson play?
It is the most shocking news for the Nashville Predators this offseason. Austin Watson, a fan favorite, was arrested for domestic assault in Franklin, TN, on June 16. An affidavit stated Watson and his girlfriend participated in an altercation leading to the Predators’ forward pushing her. The report also says the argument was regarding his girlfriend’s drinking and not being able to attend a wedding.
Watson was released on bond and faces up to 11 months and 29 days in prison if convicted. Williamson County District Attorney Kim Helper recused herself from the case due to her marriage to Predators’ Senior Vice President Gerry Helper. Watson is due back in court on July 24.
The issue for the team centers around Watson’s availability to play. Last offseason, Watson signed a 3-year contract. The NHL has no policy on domestic violence. Final rulings on cases come from Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly. In 2014, the NHL suspended Los Angeles Kings defensemen Slava Voynov from all activities indefinitely. Voynov allegedly choked, kicked, and pushed his wife while attending a Halloween party.
Before we have any answers, the legal proceedings must finish. The league stated it will monitor the situation before determining how to handle it.