Swede to become league's first European-trained official

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A veteran Swedish official will become the first European-trained referee to work games in the National Hockey League, the league said Thursday.

Marcus Vinnerborg will join the NHL officiating staff next season, league director of officials Terry Gregson told reporters during a conference call.

"He meshes extremely well (with NHL on-ice officials) on blended crews for world championships and Olympics," Gregson said.

"His knowledge of the North American game and his work ethic and professionalism will make him a positive addition to the NHL staff."

Vinnerborg, 37, will be assigned to the second-tier American Hockey League but is expected to officiate NHL regular-season games, the league's official website (www.nhl.com) said.

An official since 1987, Vinnerborg has worked such high-profile events as the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the 2006-2009 world championships.

(Writing by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Steve Ginsburg)