Svoboda, Visnovsky bring total to 173

Updated: September 28, 2004, 6:44 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Lubomir Visnovsky

Jaroslav Svoboda

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press