NHL prospect Luke Prokop declares he is gay

The Nashville Predators draft pick and Alberta native Luke Prokop announced on Monday that he was “proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay.”

Prokop became the first active player to come out under an NHL contract.

“From a very young age, I dreamed of becoming an NHL player. I believe that living a real life will allow me to take my whole self to the skating rink and improve my chances of achieving my dreams,” he said on Twitter.

After growing up in Edmonton, 19-year-old Prokop has spent the past four seasons with the Calgary Killers in the Western Hockey League. The 6-foot-5 guard was selected by the Nashville Predators in the third round of the 2020 NHL draft and signed a professional contract with the team in December.

The Predators praised Prokop’s courage on Monday and said they will “clearly support him in the coming days, weeks, and years because he will continue to develop into a rookie.” Nashville’s American Hockey League Affiliated to the Milwaukee Admiral, Prokop could finally start his career there, and did the same.

NHL thanked Prokop for “sharing his truth and being so brave.”

“I share his hope that these announcements will become more common in the hockey world,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bateman said in a statement. “LGBTQ players, coaches and staff can only perform at their absolute best if they lead a full and real life. We will not take the significance and importance of this announcement lightly.”

Prokop’s announcement was coordinated with an article published on The Athletic website about his difficult decision.

For many years, gay and lesbian athletes have struggled with difficult decisions, but male professional sports leagues generally lack active and open gay athletes.

Earlier this summer, Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders became the first active NFL player to declare that he is gay with the full support of the team. Several NFL players revealed that they were gay after the end of their careers, and Michael Sam did so in the draft year, playing in the preseason with the Los Angeles Rams in 2014 and then being cut.

Professional boxer Orlando Cruz, Major League Soccer’s Robbie Rogers, and NBA’s Jason Collins broke the sports barrier between 2012 and 2014 by declaring that they are gay.

The National Hockey League and Major League Baseball have yet to see active players who can openly position themselves. The gay Billy Beane wrote in a 2003 book that in the 1980s and 1990s, he tried to manage the challenge of major league baseball’s career while keeping his sexuality secret.

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