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Nashville Predators prospect becomes first active player under NHL contract to come out as gay


A prospect for the NHL’s Nashville Predators has become the first openly gay hockey player to be under contract, ESPN reported on Monday.

Luke Prokop, a 19-year-old defenseman drafted in 2020, made the announcement in a statement. 

“It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life, but I cannot be happier with my decision to come out,” Prokop said.

“From a young age I have dreamed of being an NHL player, and I believe that living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink and improve my chances for filling my dreams.” 

Prokop told ESPN NHL reporter Emily Kaplan that he struggled last season and thought sharing his sexuality will help clear his mind so he can perform better on the ice. 

Prokop, who is from Edmonton, Alberta, played last year for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. 

Prokop said he began revealing his sexuality to his family, friends and teammates during the past year and told his club’s front office in June as well. He said the Predators had supported him through this process. 

“I remember getting off that phone call and tears just started coming from my eyes, I was so excited,” Prokop told ESPN. “And in that moment, I thought, this is what it’s going to feel like for the rest of my life. For them to show that support that they did in that moment, it felt like I can rule the world.” 

Prokop’s announcement comes a month after the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib publicly came out as openly gay, becoming the first active player in the NFL to do so. 

In statementsthe Nashville Predators and National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman shared their congrats for the prospect.


“I share his hope that these announcements can become more common in the hockey community,” Bettman said in the league statement. “LGBTQ players, coaches and staff can only perform at their absolute best if they live their lives as their full and true selves. We do not take the meaning and importance of this announcement lightly.”

Bettman also pledges that the NHL will help to ensure that Prokop’s experience in the league will be a “welcoming and affirmative one.”

Tags LGBTQ Luke Prokop nashville Nashville Predators Nashville Predators National Hockey League NHL Tenneesee

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