Predators' Austin Watson reinstated by NHL after completing substance abuse program

Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson has been reinstated by the NHL, the league announced on Monday.

Watson was suspended by the league on January 29 after violating the league's substance abuse policy. He was placed in Stage Two of the NHL and Players' Association's joint Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, leaving him suspended without pay until he completed the program.

With Watson now entering the follow-up phase of the league's substance abuse program, he's cleared to return to the active roster in Nashville.

Prior to his January suspension, the 27-year-old Watson admitted that he had been battling with alcoholism, anxiety and depression since he was 18 years old. He previously entered Stage One of the league's substance abuse program last May.

Watson also began this season serving a suspension due to a domestic violence arrest during the offseason. Following an altercation with his pregnant girlfriend in June, he eventually pleaded no contest and was given probation. The NHL, which doesn't have a domestic violence policy, suspended Watson for 27 games before reducing that ban to 18 games. 

After missing 21 games due to this latest suspension, Watson is expected to rejoin the Predators for practice on Tuesday. The team issued a release to the public following Watson's reinstatement. 

"Because of the personal nature and the steps outlined in 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," the Predators said in a written statement. 

Watson has seven goals and 13 points in 34 games with Nashville this season.

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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