Nashville prospect comes out as gay in NHL milestone

Jul 18, 2021, 7:16 PM | Updated: Jul 19, 2021, 12:24 pm

A Nashville Predators prospect has come out as gay, a milestone moment for the sport of hockey as the first player signed to an NHL contract to make that declaration publicly.

Luke Prokop said he was proud to say he is gay. The 19-year-old Canadian who was a third-round pick in the 2020 draft last fall, posted his announcement to Twitter on Monday.

“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,” he 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 improve my chances for filling my dreams.”

No active NHL player has come out as gay. Prokop said he hopes his example shows that gay people are welcome in the hockey community.

Don Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, said, “We know the NHL hockey community will support Luke as he strives toward his goal of playing in the NHL, and we applaud the example he is setting for those in the game of hockey and beyond.”

This comes on the heels of Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib becoming the first active NFL player to come out in June.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman commended Prokop “for sharing his truth and for being so brave.”

“I share his hope that these announcements can become more common in the hockey community,” Bettman said n a 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.”

The Predators said in a statement the club is “proud of Luke for the courage he is displaying in coming out today, and we will support him unequivocally in the days, weeks and years to come as he continues to develop as a prospect.”

A 6-foot-4, 218-pound defenseman, Prokop could be a part of Nashville’s youth movement in the coming years. Owner Harris Turner and president Jon Greenberg of the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals, Nashville’s top minor league affiliate, lauded Prokop for his decision.

Prokop is from Edmonton, Alberta. He played parts of the past four seasons with Calgary in the Western Hockey League. The Calgary Hitmen said in a statement, “Representation matters, and your courage will help so many others.”

Bettman pledged the NHL will “do everything possible to ensure Luke’s experience is a welcoming and affirmative one” and work to ensure support for players who follow his path.

Prokop said the past year and a half gave him a chance to find his true self.

“I am no longer scared to hide who I am,” he said. “I may be new to the community but I’m eager to learn about the strong and resilient people who came before me and pave the way so I could be more comfortable today.”

Word of Prokop’s announcement went beyond hockey. Tennis legend Billie Jean King tweeted, “His bravery will help so many, as he seizes the power of living authentically.”

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Pittsburgh Penguins' Rickard Rakell celebrates his goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during the...
Associated Press

Guentzel, Kapanen fuel rally as Penguins slip by Vegas 4-3

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jake Guentzel and Kasperi Kapanen scored less than two minutes apart in the third period to rally the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night. Guentzel’s power-play goal 7:33 into the third tied the game at 3, and Kapanen’s first goal in nearly two months […]
19 hours ago
Texas forward Brock Cunningham (30) and guard Marcus Carr (5) celebrate with fans after the team's ...
Associated Press

Carr scores 19, No. 2 Texas beats No. 7 Creighton 72-67

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Marcus Carr scored 19 points and made two free throws with 10 seconds left as No. 2 Texas held off No. 7 Creighton’s furious late-game rally and beat the Bluejays 72-67 on Thursday night. Creighton, which struggled through a miserable 3-point shooting night, cut an 11-point Texas lead to 62-59 thanks […]
19 hours ago
Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos celebrates his 1,000th career point after assisting on a goal ...
Associated Press

Stamkos has assist for 1,000th point, Lightning beat Flyers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Steven Stamkos had an assist for his 1,000th career point, Nick Paul scored twice and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Thursday night. Ian Cole had a goal and an assist, Ross Colton also scored, Corey Perry added two assists and Andrei Valilevsky made 21 saves. The Lightning […]
19 hours ago
Michigan running back Blake Corum (2) runs the ball against Illinois in the first half of an NCAA c...
Associated Press

AP source: Michigan RB Corum (knee) expected to have surgery

Michigan star running back Blake Corum is expected to have surgery on his injured left knee that would cause him to miss the postseason, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Thursday night. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Michigan was not publicly disclosing Corum’s condition. No. 2 […]
19 hours ago
Connecticut's Jordan Hawkins (24) reacts after making a basket in the first half of an NCAA college...
Associated Press

Hawkins leads unbeaten No. 8 UConn past Okla St 74-64

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Jordan Hawkins scored a career-high 26 points to lead unbeaten No. 8 UConn past Oklahoma State 74-64 on Thursday night in the Big East-Big 12 Battle. Adama Sanogo added 20 points and Andre Jackson scored 11 for the Huskies (9-0). It was the smallest margin of victory for UConn so far […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Amoore’s triple-double lifts No. 9 Va Tech over Nebraska

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Georgia Amoore had 24 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the first triple-double in Virginia Tech history as the No. 9 Hokies beat Nebraska 85-54 on Thursday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Elizabeth Kitley added 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Hokies (7-0), who were playing their first […]
19 hours ago
Nashville prospect comes out as gay in NHL milestone