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Svoboda, Visnovsky bring total to 173

Jaroslav Svoboda of the Dallas Stars will play for a Czech team
and Lubomir Visnovsky of the Los Angeles Kings will join a
Slovakian club, raising to 173 the number of NHL players who have
agreed to compete in Europe during the lockout.

Most of the NHL players in Europe have lockout clauses that
permit them to return to North America if and when the labor
impasse ends. Many are players returning to their native countries, though 25 are Canadian and three are American.

There are about 700 players in the NHL, so 173 is almost 25 percent.

Svoboda, a forward, agreed Monday to play in his native Czech
league with Olomouc, according to the International Ice Hockey
Federation. Visnovsky, a defenseman, will skate with Slovan
Bratislava in his native Slovakia.

The Czech league leads the way with 49 NHL players, including
Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers. Sweden is second with 40
players, among them Peter Forsberg of the Colorado Avalanche. The
Russian league is third with 37 players, including Ilya Kovalchuk
of the Atlanta Thrashers.