On Monday, Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop became the first active player signed to an NHL contract to come out as gay.
Prokop, 19, made the announcement in an Instagram post.
“While the past year and a half has been crazy, it has also given me the chance to find my true self,” Prokop wrote. “I am no longer scared to hide who I am. Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay.
“It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life, but I could not be happier with my decision to come out. 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 of fulfilling my dreams.”
The Predators selected Prokop, a 6-foot-4 defenseman, with the 73rd overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The Edmonton native played last season for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, the first year of his three-year entry-level contract.
Prokop began coming out to close family members and friends this past year. After informing the Predators in June, Prokop received a call from assistant GM Brian Poile, who made clear that the organization fully supported Prokop’s decision.
“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.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on Monday thanking Prokop “for sharing his truth and for being so brave.”
“We do not take the meaning and importance of this announcement lightly,” Bettman wrote. “We pledge to do everything possible to ensure that Luke’s experience is a welcoming and affirmative one and continue to work to ensure that any current or future NHL player contemplating following in his trailblazing footsteps knows our League is ready to provide full support.”
Prokop’s announcement comes less than a month after Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay.