Predators’ Prospect Luke Prokop Becomes First Player Under Contract With NHL Team To Announce He Is Gay

Photo: Candice Ward/Calgary Hitmen

Nashville Predators prospect and WHL’s Calgary Hitman defenseman Luke Prokop became the first player under contract with an NHL club to publicly announce that he is gay on Monday morning via Twitter.

In an interview with The Athletic, Predators GM David Poile described Prokop, the 73rd overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, as a “Very brave young man. It took a lot of courage. I’m proud that he did that. It’s got to be exciting for him to be taking this step. This is a big story and hopefully, it helps and encourages others in similar situations. It’s a big deal.’’

Prokop, 19, said that he decided to reveal his true identity at this time because “I don’t want to have to walk into the gym or to the arena or just to practice, and keep thinking, ‘Who knows? Who doesn’t?’ This is who I am.”

“I don’t really have to deal with that anymore. I feel a lot more free. I can just go on the ice and be myself,” Prokop said.

Prokop decided to tell his family that he is gay while quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was just in a real place of comfort with being who I was,” said Prokop. “I felt I was able to start telling people I was gay and that people would be OK with it.’’

His older sister, Alanna, was the first person Prokop told. His mom, Nicole, and close friends were the next people he broke the news to.

“The most difficult one was definitely my brother and my dad,’’ Prokop said. “Just because I played hockey with Josh and I didn’t know how he would react, especially being his teammate for two years in Calgary. And with my dad, he’s a very type A person, and you just never know what you’re going to get from people.”

“But they’ve been so supportive and very loving and caring in trying to help me with what I want to do. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation with me coming out.’’

His brother said that “It meant a great deal to me that Luke was able to confide in me and be comfortable enough to come out to me. Being his teammate is something we both will cherish forever, but he will always be my brother first and I can’t express enough how much it means to me and our relationship that he was able to communicate his true self to me.”

Al Prokop, Luke’s father, told The Athletic that “And then you turn to a little bit of sadness in the sense of being sad for Luke that he’s had to deal with this himself for so long, and not being there to help him.”

The Predators, NHL Players’ Association, NHL released statements regarding Prokop on Monday morning:

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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