March 19 (UPI) -- The NHL reinstated Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson to the team's active roster, the league announced Monday.
Watson was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Jan. 29 after he was admitted into stage two of the league's substance abuse and behavioral health program. The league and the NHL Players' Association previously described it as an alcohol-related relapse.
"The National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) announced today that Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson has been returned to available status and has entered the follow-up care phase of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) Program," the NHL said in a statement. "Watson's care continues to be administered pursuant to the NHL/NHLPA SABH Program."
Watson had to be cleared by program administrators before he was eligible for reinstatement. The Predators said he has entered into the follow-up care phase of the program.
"Consistent with the recommendations of the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson has been returned to available status and has entered the follow-up care phase of the program," the team said in a statement. "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."
Watson was suspended for the team's opening 18 contests of the season after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor domestic assault against his girlfriend. He missed an additional 21 games during his latest suspension.
The forward is expected to return to the team for their morning skate before Nashville's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena, according to The Tennessean.
The 27-year-old Watson is in his fifth NHL season, all with the Predators. Nashville selected him in the first round of the 2010 draft.