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Austin Watson Suspended Indefinitely, Put in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 29, 2019

Nashville Predators left wing Austin Watson plays against the New Jersey Devils in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson has been suspended indefinitely and put in stage two of the NHL and NHLPA's substance abuse and behavioral health program, per a press release from NHL Public Relations.

NHL PR noted that Watson is in treatment for alcohol abuse and cannot return until granted approval to do so by the program's administrators. The league said the latest suspension is a result of "his ongoing issues with alcohol abuse."

Watson was previously suspended for the preseason and the Preds' first 18 regular-season games following a no-contest plea to domestic abuse, according to Paul Skrbina of the Tennesseean. He returned to play 34 more games before the latest suspension.

Per Skrbina, Watson was previously arrested and charged with domestic assault against Jenn Guardino, his girlfriend, on June 16.

Emily Kaplan of ESPN provided more details of what allegedly occurred that day: "On June 16, a witness flagged down a police officer to a gas station in Franklin, Tennessee, where Watson and his girlfriend, Jenn Guardino, were in a parked car. Watson told police he and Guardino were arguing and that he pushed her. Officers said they found red marks on her chest, and she said Watson caused them." 

Per Kaplan, Guardino released an October 13 statement in which she said Watson did not "hit or abuse" her.

Following the latest suspension, Joe Rexrode of the Tennesseean wrote an editorial in support of Guardino, Watson and their daughter:

"Alcoholism is a disease that kills. And when you consider what Watson risked while lapsing over the summer and getting into an argument with his girlfriend that got him charged with domestic violence, and when you consider the opportunity the Nashville Predators gave him after he pleaded no contest, then you must realize the obvious with this news that he has blown it: The guy is in danger.

"So root with me. Root for Watson. Root for his girlfriend, Jenn Gaurdino, who is battling the same disease. Root for their baby daughter, who already was going to have to read about the incident her parents got into on June 16, 2018, and wonderlike the rest of the worldwhat exactly happened. Root for truth in Guardino’s public vows that Watson did not and does abuse her. There are only two people in the world who will ever know for certain."

The 27-year-old left wing is in his fifth NHL season, all with Nashville.

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