Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson had his 27-game domestic-violence suspension was reduced to 18 games on appeal.
Independent arbitrator Shyam Das cut nine games off the suspension, the NHL announced on Thursday before the Predators’ game against the Winnipeg Jets. The NHL Players’ Association had appealed his original suspension, which was announced before the start of training camp.
Watson pleaded no contest on July 24 to misdemeanor domestic assault this summer after he was arrested in June for allegedly striking his girlfriend outside a gas station in Franklin, Tenn. He was sentenced to three months’ probation, an inpatient program for alcohol and substance abuse and 26 weeks of batterer intervention.
“As previously stated, our focus has and will continue to be the health and well-being of Austin and his family,” the Predators said in a statement.
Watson had an in-person meeting with the league Sept. 7. The NHL does not have a specific policy relating to domestic abuse.
Watson was on the ice for pregame introductions before the Predators’ home opener on Tuesday, though he left after the national anthem.
Watson, who missed all of training camp, will be eligible to return Nov. 15 when the Predators will be at the Arizona Coyotes. He’s allowed to practice with the team and use its facilities during his punishment, which will cost him more than $241,000 of his $1.1 million salary.
The fifth-year forward had five goals and three assists in nine playoff games last season, after posting 14 and five in 76 regular-season games.