Less than a year removed from participating in an domestic violence awareness campaign, Predators forward Austin Watson has been arrested for domestic violence and released on a $4,500 dollar bond.
Watson was arrested at 7:20pm on Saturday in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The report is not public record due to pending criminal court action. He’s due in court on the 28th June 2018.
A first round pick (18th overall) in 2010, Watson scored a career high 19 points in the NHL this season. 14 goals, 5 assists, making $1,100,000.
The action the Predators take in response to this obviously horrific incident will be under sharp scrutiny, and should they fail to take action this will be yet another black mark on the NHL’s record of dealing with abusers.
The Predators organisation and NHL as a whole have an opportunity here to establish a zero tolerance policy for abusers, which admittedly they should have done long ago. There is no way to justify Watson playing with the team come October. You can argue that this shouldn’t ruin his career until the cows come home, but there should be tangible repercussions for his actions.
This incident also highlights the extent to which public awareness campaigns and efforts to speak out against social issues is nothing but performative drivel to players. If Watson can participate in anti-domestic violence campaigns but then go home and participate in the very thing he is condemning, who knows what else this applies to across the league.
I apologise for preaching, but the continued rise of inexcusably heinous actions league wide (the potential return of Voynov, Randy Lee sexually assaulting a teenager), something really has to change. The joke about the NHL being the worst league is funny, but not when the league perpetuates blatant criminal acts.
The Predators are yet to make a statement about Watson’s position in the organisation going forward, but based on past experience, it wouldn’t be shocking to see this have no impact on his playing career, even if he does face jail time.
Feature image credit: SB Nation