While there probably aren’t as many fans of professional hockey in Memphis as there are fans of college basketball or college football, the sport has undoubtedly grown in popularity since the Predators opened for business in Nashville 20 years ago back in 1998. While last season didn’t end with a Stanley Cup, the team had an extraordinarily successful campaign that ended in first place in the Central Division with a record of 53 wins, just 18 losses and 11 ties.
Predators fans were probably surprised when they heard the news that forward Austin Watson was recently charged with domestic violence. The 26-year-old was arrested by Franklin police, news reports stated.
The arrest affidavit states that just after 7 in the evening, a police officer was hailed by a witness to the alleged domestic altercation. When the officer arrived, he noticed a passenger in a vehicle was attempting to "back away from being shoved away." The person said “stop” and “was trying to cover her face.”
The driver, later identified as Watson, said that he and the passenger (identified as his girlfriend) were arguing about her drinking, the officer stated in the affidavit. Watson apparently admitted to pushing the woman after the officer said he noticed red marks on her.
Watson was arrested and later freed on bond.
A county prosecutor told The Tennessean that if the hockey player is convicted, he faces potentially a jail term of 11 months and 29 days, plus a fine of up to $2,500.
Last year, the former first-round pick signed a three-year $3.3 million contract. Also last year, Watson took part in a PR campaign against domestic violence: “Unsilence the Violence.”
No one but the two people involved knows the truth of the matter, of course. Like anyone accused of domestic violence, Watson should decline to speak to prosecutors until he has spoken with a criminal defense attorney experienced in getting for clients justice and fairness.