Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson, who began this season on suspension, has been suspended again as part of the NHL’s substance abuse program.
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced Tuesday that Watson had been placed in Stage Two of the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program “for treatment related exclusively to his ongoing issues with alcohol abuse.”
That means Watson, who won’t be paid during this suspension, cannot return until program administrators clear him to return.
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The Predators said in a statement that they are “saddened and disappointed” for Watson and his family.
“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,” the team said.
“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,” it said.
Watson already had served a suspension for the first 18 games of the season after pleading no contest to a domestic assault charge in July.
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His girlfriend, Jenn Guardino, issued a statement in October taking blame for the incident in the parking lot of a gas station, saying she had struggled with alcoholism for years and was involved in AA.
The Predators forward shared Jan. 11 in an Instagram post that he’d been dealing with anxiety, depression and alcoholism since the age of 18.
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As my 26th year comes to an end in a couple days, I’ve found myself reflecting lately. In doing so, I’ve felt a deep urge to be a bit more open. After lots of prayer and contemplation, I’ve found that there’s one thing I need to share that’s been a part of my life and anyone else’s life that’s been close with me for quite some time. With Jennifer’s permission to use the word “we” in certain places, the picture above is a note that’s been sitting in my phone for what seems like ages. It’s a condensed version of some words I’d had gone back and forth with releasing as a statement as I returned to the ice. While I won’t go into any more of my family’s and my personal life, because it still isn’t the right time for us and to not create another individual distraction in the midst of our team’s season, I found it only fair to share briefly of my story. Mental Illness runs rampant in the world today. In my experience it can often feel lonely, consuming, and at times unbearable. Please know that you are not alone. There are so many of us who seem to have the picture perfect life, no problems in the world. Yet I deal and I battle just as much as and no more than the next person. I’ve been blessed with many obstacles, traumas and hard times to overcome. Doing the next right thing doesn’t always seem easy, but it’s worth it. Perspective is everything to me, and when I look at the beautiful and downright amazing things in my life that I feel unworthy of, I realize how fortunate I am to be me. If you’re feeling alone today, you’re not. If you feel like no ones cares, I do. If there doesn’t seem to be any chance of it getting better, believe me it will. I hope I’ve helped someone today the way others who’ve shared have helped me. P.S. to the esteemed members of the local and national media, I still won’t touch on either matter past what I’ve said above at this time. Thank you for your courtesy, respect and understanding. On a lighter note I’ve also accompanied this post with Jennifer and I’s beautiful #adidas model. She puts a smile on my face every time 😊. #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #mentalillness #hope #grateful #thisisus #giveback #longwinded 🤦♂️
He said that he was currently sober and committed to a “healthy lifestyle.”
Watson currently has seven goals and 13 points in 34 games with Nashville, which is second in the Central Division.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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