Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The NHL and the National Hockey League Players' Association announced Tuesday they placed Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson in the second stage of the NHL/NHLPA substance abuse and behavioral health program for increased treatment related to his ongoing battle with alcohol abuse.
Under the program, Watson will serve a suspension without pay until cleared by program administrators.
"The Nashville Predators are saddened and disappointed for Austin Watson and his family as he enters the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program for alcohol-related treatment," the Predators said in a statement. "We are grateful for the NHL and NHLPA's program and will cooperate in any way necessary as we continue to support Austin and his family as they go through this difficult time.
"Because of the personal nature of 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."
Watson previously served a suspension during the preseason and the Preds' opening 18 games of this season after he pled no-contest to domestic abuse following an alleged incident with his girlfriend June 16.
Watson returned from his reduced suspension and played in 34 games this season. He had seven goals and six assists.
The 27-year-old forward is in his fifth NHL season, all with the Predators. His future with the club is uncertain.