Back at the end of January, Nashville Predators’ Austin Watson took a major step in his recovery as heplaced in Stage 2 of the NHL/NHLPA joint Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program “for treatment related exclusively to his ongoing issues with alcohol abuse.
Under the terms of the joint program, Watson was suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.
On Monday, it was announced that Watson has been returned to available status and has entered the follow-up care phase of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) Program.
Watson’s care continues to be administered pursuant to the NHL/NHLPA SABH Program.
The 26-year old player was arrested charged in a domestic assault incident back on June 16th, 2018 after a witness flagged down a police officer to a gas station in Franklin, Tennessee where Watson was allegedly involved in an altercation with his girlfriend. Watson told police he and his girlfriend were arguing and that he pushed her. Officers said they found red marks on her chest, and she said Watson caused them. Watson pleaded no contest to domestic assault on July 24th.
His girlfriend, Jenn Guardino, issued a statement in October taking blame for the incident and saying Watson would never hit or abuse her.
This season, since his return following the suspension, Watson has tallied seven goals and 13 points in 34 games.
Here is the Predators' statement on Watson's return:
Let's hope Watson got the help he needed and is now healthy and ready for some time on the ice with his second family.