Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson has been suspended indefinitely after admittance into stage two of the NHL and NHLPA’s substance abuse and behavioral health program.
The suspension, effective immediately and without pay, is due to his “ongoing issues with alcohol abuse.”
“The Nashville Predators are saddened and disappointed for Austin Watson and his family as he enters the NHL / NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program for alcohol-related treatment,” the Predators said in a statement. “We are grateful for the NHL and NHLPA’s program and will cooperate in any way necessary as we continue to support Austin and his family as they go through this difficult time. Because of the personal nature of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program and our exclusive focus on Austin and his family’s well-being, there will be no further comment on this matter.”
Watson will have to be cleared by the substance abuse program administrators before he’s allowed to play in the NHL again.
The announcement continues what is becoming a concerning timeline for the enforcer. At the beginning of the season, Watson was suspended 18 games (after an original 27-game ban was reduced by an arbitrator) due to a domestic assault incident involving his girlfriend.
Watson was arrested in Franklin, Tennessee in June 2018 and pleaded no contest to the charges, which means he neither admitted nor denied guilt.
The Predators forward was placed on a three-month probation and had to complete a 26-week batterer intervention course and inpatient treatment for drugs and alcohol. Watson’s original 27-game suspension matched the length of his probationary period.
Watson has appeared in 34 games this season and has scored 13 points (7 goals, 6 assists). He fought Tom Wilson during a home game on January 15. According to Hockey Fights, Watson has fought 25 times over the last three seasons.
More from the NHL:
The National Hockey League Players’ Association and National Hockey League announced today that forward Austin Watson of the Nashville Predators has been placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA for treatment related exclusively to his ongoing issues with alcohol abuse.
Under the terms of the joint program, Watson will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.
Watson’s care will be administered pursuant to the NHL/NHLPA SABH Program.
Headline photo: Claus Andersen
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