Sports | July 19, 2021 12:02 pm

Luke Prokop, Nashville Predators Prospect, Comes Out as Gay

It's a significant moment for the NHL

Luke Prokop while playing for the Calgary Hitmen. The NHL prospect recently announced he is gay, a milestone for the sport.
Luke Prokop, formerly of the Calgary Hitmen, skates against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on February 17, 2020.
Marissa Baecker/Getty Images

The NHL has yet to have an openly gay player, but that day seems closer at hand than ever. On Monday, Luke Prokop — who was drafted in 2020 by the Nashville Predators, and who spent last season playing for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen — took to social media to publicly announce that he is gay.

“While the past year and a half has been crazy,” he wrote, “it has also given me the chance to find my true self. I am no longer scared to hide who I am.”

At The Athletic, Prokop spoke with Pierre LeBrun about coming out and his history with hockey, offering more context for his decision and addressing the way opening up to friends, family and teammates has changed his approach to playing the sport. “I think it’s been translating a lot into my summer and my summer training,” Prokop said. “I’ve noticed myself being a lot more confident on the ice.”

Predators general manager David Poile offered a supportive and enthusiastic perspective. “This is a big story and hopefully it helps and encourages others in similar situations,” he told The Athletic. “It’s a big deal.”

A 2020 article at Outsports explored a subtle but definite cultural change in ice hockey — and pondered when the world might see a gay player in the NHL. A similar question was raised earlier this year by an article at The Walrus, in which Alex Manley noted that hockey’s “core culture remains one of male aggression.”

It’s a bold step forward for men’s hockey in North America, and another landmark moment for professional sports.