HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A deal has been struck to keep the American Hockey League’s Whale playing at the XL Center in Hartford until 2016.

The multi-year deal was announced Tuesday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. It calls for the New York Rangers’ minor-league affiliate to play at the XL Center for the 2013-2016 seasons and includes a provision that could extend that by another two years.

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The deal was reached between Global Spectrum and the Madison Square Garden company.

The governor’s office described the agreement as a critical milestone in contract negotiations for management of the XL Center and Rentschler Field that are under way between the Capital Region Development Authority and Global Spectrum.

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Development authority director Michael Freimuth said securing a professional hockey team was a big factor in selecting Global Spectrum to manage the XL Center.

The franchise’s team name was the Hartford Wolf Pack from 1997 until 2010, when the team changed it’s name to the Whale.

Have you ever caught a Whale game in Hartford? What is the arena/experience like? Let us know in the comments section below…

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