Wat­son’s trou­ble started with al­co­hol re­lapse

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports -

Nashville Preda­tors for­ward Austin Wat­son says the ar­rest last year that led to his 18-game sus­pen­sion came when he started drink­ing again af­ter 23 months of so­bri­ety.

Wat­son, who turns 27 on Sun­day, said Fri­day in an In­sta­gram post that he’s been deal­ing with anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and al­co­holism since the age of 18. Wat­son said he vol­un­tar­ily en­tered the NHL’s sub­stance abuse pro­gram af­ter his June 16 ar­rest.

“I am cur­rently sober and com­mit­ted to liv­ing a healthy life­style so that I can be the fa­ther, part­ner, team­mate and per­son I want to be,” Wat­son said.

Wat­son pleaded no con­test July 24 to do­mes­tic as­sault and agreed to a ju­di­cial di­ver­sion pro­gram that en­abled the mis­de­meanour charge to be dis­missed if he served three months of pro­ba­tion and com­pleted an in-pa­tient treat­ment pro­gram and a bat­terer’s in­ter­ven­tion pro­gram.

He ini­tially re­ceived a 27-game sus­pen­sion from the NHL, but an ar­bi­tra­tor re­duced it to 18 games. He was re­in­stated in mid-Novem­ber and has six goals and two as­sists in 28 games this sea­son. Austin Wat­son of the Nashville Preda­tors, right, bat­tles for the puck with T.J. Oshie of the Wash­ing­ton Capi­tals dur­ing a Dec. 31 game in Wash­ing­ton.

Wat­son was ar­rested in con­nec­tion Wat­son told po­lice he and his with a June 16 in­ci­dent af­ter girl­friend were ar­gu­ing and that a wit­ness flagged down a po­lice he pushed her. Of­fi­cers said they of­fi­cer to a gas sta­tion in Franklin, found red marks on her chest, and

Tenn. Ac­cord­ing to the in­ci­dent re­port, she said Wat­son caused them.

Wat­son’s girl­friend, Jenn Guardino, is­sued a state­ment in Oc­to­ber tak­ing blame for the in­ci­dent and say­ing Wat­son would never hit or abuse her. In her state­ment, Guardino said she had “strug­gled with al­co­holism for many years.”

In his In­sta­gram post, Wat­son said that he and his girl­friend were “en­gaged in a heated, non­phys­i­cal ar­gu­ment” that day. Wat­son said that both he and his girl­friend had re­lapsed in their bat­tles with al­co­holism dur­ing the month lead­ing up to the in­ci­dent.

“I did not cause marks on her chest or blood on her leg,” Wat­son said. “I did han­dle mat­ters that day poorly and did not up­hold the stan­dards of an em­ployee of the Nashville Preda­tors or Na­tional Hockey League.

“I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for my in­volve­ment in the ar­gu­ment and have learned from the sit­u­a­tion and taken the nec­es­sary steps to en­sure that noth­ing of this na­ture hap­pens again.”

Wat­son added that he and his girl­friend are “healthy, happy and com­mit­ted to our own in­di­vid­ual so­bri­ety as well as con­tin­u­ing to strengthen our re­la­tion­ship.”

“We have learned from our mis­takes and are ex­cited to move for­ward in our re­la­tion­ship,” Wat­son said. “We wish only to raise our daugh­ter Olivia in the most healthy and lov­ing at­mos­phere we can pro­vide.”

AP FILE PHOTO

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