Ice hockey-Court rules Swedish league can ban NHL players

STOCKHOLM, Dec 18 (Reuters) - A Swedish court has ruled that the country's Hockey Association has the right to ban clubs from signing short-term contracts with locked-out NHL players.

The decision overturns a previous finding by Sweden's Competition Authority that such a ban was illegal.

"I can say we're very relieved about the court's decision, which we feel confirms our competition rules," hockey league chairman Anders Hedin told newspaper Expressen on Tuesday.

Of the 12 teams in Sweden's top division only two - Frolunda and Modo - signed short-term contracts with players locked out due to a dispute between players and clubs in North America's National Hockey League.

Hedin said it was too early to say whether the two clubs would be punished. (Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Mark Meadows;; +44 20 7542 7933; Reuters Messaging:;