UNDATED (AP) - The NHL is criticizing an arbitrator's decision to reduce the suspension of Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson, who pleaded no contest in July to a domestic assault charge.

The league issued a statement saying it firmly believed that the right of appeal to an arbitrator of League discipline was never intended to substitute the arbitrator's judgment for that of the Commissioner.

Watson received a 27-game suspension from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman last month. The NHL and NHL Players' Association announced Thursday that arbitrator Shyam Das had reduced it to 18 games.