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Nashville Predator forward Austin Watson will serve a 27-game suspension for unacceptable off-ice conduct.

Watson, 26, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor domestic assault charge in an incident with his girlfriend on June 16. The Predator’s right wing will miss 27 games of the regular season and all of the pre-season without pay. He deserves punishment.

Watson, along with Mike Fisher, P.K. Subban, and Ryan Ellis became spokespeople for AMEND earlier this year. AMEND, promoted by the YMCA, is a primary prevention initiative dedicated to ending the epidemic of violence against women and girls. The program empowers young men and boys to become catalysts for cultural change.

A more worthy program is hard to find.

“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. “[Wednesday’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.”

Suspending Watson is the right thing to do. Professional athletes are not above the law and domestic violence is not acceptable. The NHL sends a clear message: domestic violence will not be tolerated.

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Watson is eligible to return Dec. 3, when Nashville hosts Buffalo.

Jack Woods covers the Nashville Predators and the Central Division for You can follow Jack on Twitter @jack_woods15.

Cover Photo: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

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