The NHL announced the suspension of Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson indefinitely and admitted into a substance abuse rehabilitation program.
It is not what the team had in mind. On the verge of getting a completely healthy roster, the Nashville Predators were expecting big things for the second half of the season. The All-Star break was providing time for the players to get mentally prepared for what is to come. However, they will have to do it without a key piece.
Earlier today, the NHL announced it suspended Predators’ forward Austin Watson indefinitely. The suspension begins immediately and stems from his ongoing issues alcohol abuse. Austin Watson must undergo and complete the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program before he will be allowed to play again. He will not be paid during the suspension.
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This is not Watson’s first suspension this season. Before the season started, he pleaded “no contest” to domestic assault charges stemming from an altercation with his girlfriend in June 2018. Watson served an 18-game suspension, which was originally slated to be 27 games. There is no indication or report of any additional domestic issues.
Playing mostly with the Nashville Predators’ third line, Watson has seven goals and six assists on the season, playing in 34 games. He played quality minutes on the team’s penalty kill and his physically play helped him to lead the team with 99 hits.
With his absence, the Predators will need to find someone to replace his abilities. Trade talks for players like Wayne Simmonds will likely pick up. Watson provided size and physically that were much needed to the team. His style of play are crucial when facing teams like the Winnipeg Jets.
Watson is out, like the rest of the season. While the team and fan wish him the best in his recovery from a life-threatening disease, the Nashville Predators need to move forward quickly.