After starting the 2018-19 season under suspension, Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson is in hot water with the NHL once again.
Watson has been put into the second stage of the NHL and Players’ Association’s joint Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, just over six months after receiving probation for a domestic assault case involving his girlfriend.
According to the league and NHLPA, Watson is re-entering the program 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 the 24-year-old is cleared by SABH program administrators.
The Predators released a statement on Tuesday:
“We are grateful for the NHL and NHLPA’s program and will co-operate 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 sat out the first 18 games of this season following a plea of no contest to a domestic assault charge last July. The victim of the alleged assault, his girlfriend Jenn Gaurdino, took blame for the incident, saying she struggled with alcoholism and was seeking treatment.
Watson outlined his struggles with alcoholism, depression and anxiety in a January 11 Instagram post.
Gaurdino gave birth to the couple’s first child in April.
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