Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop on Monday became the first active player under NHL contract to come out as gay.
Prokop, 19, made the announcement in an Instagram post.
“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 wrote. “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 and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams.”
No NHL player, active or retired, has come out publicly.
Prokop, a 6-foot-4 right-handed defenseman from Edmonton, Alberta, was selected in the third round by the Predators in the 2020 NHL draft. He signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Predators in December and played last season for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, where he was an alternate captain.
He told ESPN that he struggled last season and wanted to come out publicly because he believed it would help ease his mind and allow him to play his best hockey.
Prokop said he made his decision to come out in April when he returned from Calgary after his season ended because of COVID-19.
“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 told ESPN. “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.'”