Luke Prokop Becomes 1st Out Player In National Hockey League

Luke Prokop, prospect for the Nashville Predators, came out as gay becoming the first out active hockey player in the NHL
Luke Prokop, prospect for the Nashville Predators, came out as gay becoming the first out active hockey player in the NHL
Luke Prokop (screen capture via ESPN)

Luke Prokop, a prospect for the Nashville Predators, came out as gay on Monday becoming the first active player under a National Hockey League contract to do so.

“I am no longer scared to hide who I am,” the 19-year-old wrote on Instagram. “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,” Prokop continued. “From a young age I have dreamed of being an NHL player, and 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 six-foot-four defenseman went on to say that while he is “new to the community,” he is “eager to learn about the strong and resilient people who came before me and paved the way so I could be more comfortable today.”

Prior to Prokop, there has never been an NHL player, active or retired, who has publicly come out.

Originally from Alberta, Canada, Prokop played for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League last season, acting as an alternate captain.

He was selected by the Predators in the third round of the 2020 NHL draft. In December, he signed a three-year contract with the team.

Prokop told ESPN that personal struggles during his tenure with the Hitmen led him to the realization he needed to come out.

“I was lying in bed one night, had just deleted a dating app for the fourth or fifth time, and I was extremely frustrated because I couldn’t be my true authentic self,” Prokop said. “In that moment I said, ‘Enough is enough. I’m accepting who I am. I want to live the way I want to, and I want to accept myself as a gay man.’”

Prokop shares that the first team exec he spoke to about coming out was Operations/General Manager Brian Poile.

“He, in that moment, showed me a lot of support and told me the Predators are behind me 1,000 percent and want what’s best for me and that they’re proud of me during this,” Prokop told ESPN. “I remember getting off that phone call and tears just started coming from my eyes, I was so excited.”

“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.”

Prokop’s announcement follows that of Las Vegas Raiders player Carl Nassib, who became the first out active NFL player last month when he shared with the world that he is gay. Prokop told ESPN that, while Nassib’s recent news didn’t prompt his own coming out, he did find the NFL player’s words, and the reaction of the NFL, inspiring.

The Predators’ Twitter account quickly posted messages of support for Prokop as well as the National Hockey League and the official accounts for other teams.

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

Henry added that, “A long-stated goal in our organization is equality for all, including the LGBTQ community, and it is important that Luke feels comfortable and part of an inclusive environment as he moves forward in his career.”

“Our message as a team [is that] we’re obviously very supportive of him,” Predators team captain Roman Josi told NHL.com. “We just reached out and told him [we’ll help with] whatever he needs and that we’re proud of him. It’s a big step for him and we fully support him.”

The Predators Instagram account also shared interview clips of Prokop speaking to SportsNet’s podcast, ’31 Thoughts.’

Vegas Golden Knights Announce Events For “Hockey Is For Everyone Month” Including LGBT Night

Pierre Edouard Bellemare of the Vegas Golden Knights

In celebration of Hockey Is For Everyone Month, the Vegas Golden Knights have announced a series of programs and events throughout the month of February, including an LGBT night on February 15.

The Golden Knights join the NHL in supporting an inclusive environment for all fans and players regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.

Via press release:

Hockey Is For Everyone Month is a league-wide initiative to foster a safe and inclusive environment in the game of hockey regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will serve as the Golden Knights player ambassador throughout the month.

In support of Hockey Is For Everyone Month, the Golden Knights will host Hailey Dawson for a ceremonial puck drop at the Golden Knights vs. Philadelphia Flyers game at 5 p.m. PT on February 11. Dawson has a 3-D printed robotic hand that enables her to grab, throw and grasp, and she previously has thrown out multiple pitches at Major League Baseball games. Dawson had a special Vegas Golden Knights hand created by the UNLV School of Engineering to drop the puck.

On February 15, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, or “The Center,” will attend the Golden Knights vs. Edmonton Oilers game at 7 p.m. PT, and a special PSA from Bellemare will be played in-arena. Pride t-shirts will be available for sale, and proceeds from the Vegas Golden Knights 51/49 raffle that night will benefit The Center.

Clients of Opportunity Village, who work with men and women of all levels of disabilities, will attend the Golden Knights vs. Calgary Flames game at 7:30 p.m. PT on February 21 and stand alongside the players on the bench for the national anthem. In addition, clients will attend the Golden Knights practice on February 17 and have the opportunity to skate on the ice afterward.

Players will also be able to use rainbow tape on their sticks for warm-ups February 21 to later be auctioned off, with all proceeds benefiting the You Can Play Project in support of LGBTQ athletes.

By the way, did I mention the Golden Knight have already broken the record for most wins (34 so far) by an NHL team in its inaugural season?

Las Vegas Gets Major League Hockey!

Las Vegas sporting fans are on fire – and I don’t mean the heat – over the news that after years and years of trying, the City of Entertainment will soon become a “Major League” city as billionaire business man Bill Foley has been awarded a National Hockey League expansion franchise beginning with the 2017-18 season.

The 2017 season will celebrate 100 years of the National Hockey League. The expansion will bring the number of teams in the NHL to 31. This is the first expansion for the NHL since 1997.

From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Foley will pay $500 million to join the league as its 31st team. The yet-to-be-named team, which collected more than 15,000 season-ticket deposits as part of its “Vegas Wants Hockey” campaign beginning Feb. 10, 2015, through May 2016, will play its home games at the 17,500-seat T-Mobile Arena.

Gavin Maloof, whose family owns 15 percent of the Las Vegas NHL team, said: “We’re so excited. This community deserves it. They’re going to enjoy what this team brings to the city, to the fans and especially the kids.”

With Foley at his side, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the decision by the league’s Board of Governors to expand at a news conference at Encore. The vote, which was 30-0 in favor, followed the recommendation of the nine-member Executive Committee, which met June 7 in New York and advised expansion to Las Vegas.

Bettman said the addition of Las Vegas was based in part on the substance of Foley’s strong bid along with a first-rate facility and the season-ticket drive that by Wednesday afternoon had surpassed 15,000 deposits as a rush of sales poured in after the official announcement.

“The Las Vegas market was intriguing,” Bettman said. “The worldwide reputation it has was appealing and it’s a city that was ready for major league sports.

“But I can’t overstate the importance of the season-ticket drive which got everyone’s attention. It demonstrated there’s a community that is ready and willing to support the NHL.”

And you know what comes along with a hockey team? Sexy hockey player calendar!

Rival Hockey Fans Put On A Show For The ‘Kiss Cam’

This just shows how progressive Hockey fans can be 🙂

This unidentified Blackhawks fan gave the crowd quite a show at a recent match with the Detroit Red Wings. The Blackhawks fan gave the woman next to him a kiss, then, when tapped on the shoulder by a Red Wings fan casually leaned back shared the love.

Quite innocent but fun to see. Watch below: