Sources: No discipline for Austin Watson hit on Tyler Motte

ByGreg Wyshynski ESPN logo
Friday, March 3, 2023

Ottawa Senators forward Austin Watson will not receive further discipline from the NHL department of player safety for his hit on New York Rangers forward Tyler Motte on Thursday night, sources have told ESPN.

Watson was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit along the boards on Motte at 12:49 of the first period. Motte left the game and did not return. Rangers coach Gerard Gallant called him "day to day" after the Rangers' 5-3 loss to the Senators.

"It was a bad hit. It was the right call. He obviously got him high," said Gallant.

The NHL determined the hit didn't rise to the level of a player safety hearing. It was ruled a major penalty for charging during the game, with Watson skating in from a distance to hit Motte. But the NHL determined he didn't take strides to power into the hit or launch into Motte.

While there was contact with the head, it didn't violate the NHL's criteria for an illegal check to the head. Watson hit through the core of Motte's body. The league said the principle point of contact wasn't the head, and head contact was determined to be unavoidable.

The NHL has issued 12 suspensions this season for illegal plays and one for unsportsmanlike conduct.