Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson has been suspended indefinitely without pay by the NHL, and has entered the second stage of the league’s substance abuse program, for “ongoing issues with alcohol abuse.”
This is Watson’s second suspension of the season. In June 2018, Watson was arrested for domestic assault after he allegedly shoved his girlfriend Jennifer Guardino during an argument at a gas station over “her drinking and not being able to attend a wedding,” according to police. Watson pleaded no contest to the charge. He was sentenced to three months of probation and ordered to complete a 26-week batterer’s intervention course, as well as an inpatient treatment program for drugs and alcohol. The NHL then suspended him for the 2018-19 preseason and 27 regular season games, later reduced to 18.
In an Instagram post on January 11, Watson said that he had dealt with “anxiety, depression, and alcoholism” since he was 18, and that he had voluntarily entered the NHL’s substance abuse program after his arrest. He said he was presently sober, but that Guardino—with whom he had a daughter in April last year—was also an alcoholic, and both of them had relapsed in May 2018.
Watson had been playing regularly for the Predators up until this past weekend’s all-star break. He had 13 points in 34 games.