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Ice hockey: Gaborik joins Slovak squad for worlds

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers is to join up with the Slovakia squad for the IIHF World Championship starting Friday after his NHL side were knocked out of the playoffs.

Lubomir Visnovsky of Anaheim Ducks, whose team like the Rangers failed to progress, will also link up with Slovakia later this week while Michal Handzus (Los Angeles Kings) will decide soon on whether he will take part.

"Marian will join the team in Bratislava in the coming days," said Peter Bondra, the national team's general manager.

Gaborik could arrive in Bratislava as soon as Wednesday, local media reported, while the Slovak ice hockey association confirmed Visnovsky's availability Tuesday.

The central European country is also eagerly awaiting the result of Chicago Blackhawks' decisive seventh game against Vancouver Canucks, with a Hawks' defeat possibly freeing up Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky for the tournament.

The tournament, which clashes with the end of the NHL playoffs and will be forced to battle for the limelight, will take place in the Slovak capital Bratislava and the eastern Slovak town of Kosice.

Sixteen teams are competing in the April 29 to May 15 tournament, which starts off with a preliminary round of four groups.

(Reporting by Martin Santa; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Mark Meadows)