NHL

Predators' Prokop becomes NHL's first active player to come out as gay

By Sports Desk July 19, 2021

Nashville Predators' defenseman Luke Prokop has announced he is gay, making him the first contracted NHL player to come out publicly.

Prokop, 19, is yet to make his debut in the NHL but marked a historic day on Monday as he made his announcement on Instagram.

"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 in his post.

"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."

Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Prokop was selected as a third-round draft pick by the Predators in the 2020 NHL Draft.

He signed a three-year deal after previously impressing for Calgary Hitmen in the Western Hockey League.

Prokop's decision to come out follows that of Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib, who became the first openly gay active NFL player last month.

"It's been very special, talking to my friends, my family, my coaches, my agents," Prokop told The Athletic. "And them being very supportive, me coming out and being OK with who I was. ... I've noticed myself being a lot more confident on the ice.

"Being able to truly be who I am. This is the best I've ever felt in the summer and I think a large part of that is due to this process of me coming out."

Having made his decision in April during the COVID-19 enforced season break, Prokop told three of his Hitmen team-mates and hopes he can inspire others to feel comfortable coming out.

"They've [Prokop's team-mates] been really great," he added. "The part of me coming out is that I'm just one of the guys.

"Who I love and who I go home with that night, that's private and it shouldn't matter anymore. I'm just there to play hockey, I'm there to win a championship.

"If I can inspire or help make a difference to one person, then I've done my job in wanting to create change and to create an environment where it's healthy for players to come out now."

Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, said in a statement on Monday that the league would support Prokop and praised him for "sharing his truth and for being so brave".

"We pledge to do everything possible to ensure that Luke's experience is a welcoming and affirmative one and continue to work to ensure that any current or future NHL player contemplating following in his trailblazing footsteps knows our League is ready to provide full support."

Related items

  • NHL:Bobrovsky, Panthers shut out Rangers in Game 1 of East finals NHL:Bobrovsky, Panthers shut out Rangers in Game 1 of East finals

    Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 23 shots and Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist to lead the Florida Panthers to a 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday.

    Carter Verhaeghe also scored and Sam Bennett tallied into an empty net as the Panthers won for the fifth time in their last six playoff games.

    Igor Shesterkin stopped 24 shots for the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Rangers, who have lost three of four after opening the playoffs with seven straight wins.

    Game 2 is Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

    Bobrovsky made five saves in the first period, seven in the second and was at his best in the third with 11 more saves to complete his second career postseason shutout.

    He denied Kaapo Kakko on a one-timer with a sliding save 6 ½ minutes into the third and stopped Alexander Wennberg on two attempts in close with seven minutes left.

    New York had four shots on goal in the first 1:55 of the second period, and then went nearly 14 ½ minutes without one until Adam Fox’s attempt with 3:42 to play.

  • Devils hire former Maple Leafs coach Keefe Devils hire former Maple Leafs coach Keefe

    The New Jersey Devils are hiring former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe for the same position.

    An official announcement will be made on Thursday.

    Keefe’s deal with the Devils will be for four years, including the two years owed to him by the Maple Leafs, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

    Keefe, 43, was fired by Toronto after the Maple Leafs were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by the Boston Bruins in seven games.

    Keefe led Toronto to the playoffs in each of his four-plus seasons there, but won just one round.  

    He takes over a Devils team that fell well short of expectations last season, missing the playoffs after they had 112 points and advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2022-23.

    Lindy Ruff was fired by New Jersey late this season and was replaced on an interim basis by Travis Green.

    Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said at the end of the season that he would be conducting an extensive coaching search.

  • Toronto Maple Leafs name Craig Berube coach Toronto Maple Leafs name Craig Berube coach

    The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Craig Berube as their new head coach on Friday, bringing a Stanley Cup champion to a franchise that holds the longest stretch without a title in NHL history.

    Berube, who guided the St. Louis Blues to their lone Stanley Cup title in 2018-19, comes aboard just over a week after the Maple Leafs fired Sheldon Keefe following a first-round exit in this year's play-offs.

    The 58-year-old Berube, a former Toronto player known for his hard-nosed and disciplined coaching approach, compiled a 206-132-44 record in six seasons with St. Louis. The Blues reached the play-offs in the first four of those seasons, but missed the post-season in 2022-23 and got off to a 13-14-1 start in 2023-24 before Berube was fired on Dec. 12.

    Berube did enjoy instant success after replacing Mike Yeo behind the Blues' bench in November 2018. St. Louis was near the bottom of the Western Conference at the time of the switch, but rebounded to make the post-season before winning three play-off series prior to defeating the Boston Bruins in seven games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

    He'll now take over a Toronto team that has won just one play-off series since 2006 and last hoisted the Stanley Cup in 1968, a 56-year drought that stands as the longest in NHL history.

    The Maple Leafs reached the play-offs in all five of their seasons under Keefe, but he won just one of six post-season series and was let go on May 9 after Toronto lost to the rival Bruins in seven games in this year's first round.

    "We had gotten to a place where just a new voice was needed," Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving said in announcing Keefe's dismissal. "And that's the unfortunate part of this business. I do not believe that you turn coaches and you keep turning coaches. I don't think that is the recipe for success at all. I just felt at the end of the day, when I look at the totality of his time here, a change was required."

    Berube, who also spent two seasons as the Philadelphia Flyers' head coach from 2013-15, inherits a talented roster that produced the second-most goals in the NHL this season. Star centre Auston Matthews led the league with 69 goals, the highest individual total by any player in a season since Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux also had 69 for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995-96.

    A rugged forward who spent 17 seasons as an NHL player with five teams, Berube has assembled a 281-190-72 overall record as a head coach and was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award honouring the league's top coach in 2018-19.

    Berube's hire leaves four teams - the New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Kraken and Winnipeg Jets - still with coaching vacancies. The Buffalo Sabres (Lindy Ruff) and Ottawa Senators (Travis Green) previously hired new head coaches within the last month. 

     

     

     

     

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.