On Monday, Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop became the first active player signed to an NHL contract to come out as gay.
Procop, 19, announced in an Instagram post.
“While the past year and a half has been crazy, it has also given me a chance to find my true self,” Prokop wrote. “I am no longer afraid to hide who I am. Today I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay.
“It has been a long journey to reach this point in my life, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision to come out. From a young age I’ve dreamed of becoming an NHL player, and I believe that living my authentic life will allow myself to fully put myself on the rink and improve my chances of pursuing 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 for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League last season, the first year of his three-year entry-level contract.
Prokop last year began to bring close family members and friends. After notifying the poachers in June, Prokop received a call from Assistant GM Brian Poole, who clarified that the organization fully supported Prokop’s decision.
“I remember taking that phone call and having tears in my eyes, I was so excited,” Procop told ESPN. “And in that moment, I thought, this is going to feel like this for the rest of my life. To show the support they did for them in that moment, it felt like I could rule the world.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bateman issued a statement On Monday thanked Prokop for “sharing your truth and being so brave.”
“We do not take lightly the meaning and significance of this announcement,” Bateman wrote. “We pledge to do everything possible to ensure that Luke’s experience is a welcome and positive one and continue to work to ensure that no current or future NHL player can follow in his trailblazing footsteps.” Considering that our league stands ready to provide full support.”
Prokop’s announcement comes less than a month after Raiders defensive end Carl Nasib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay.