NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Nashville Predators defensive prospect Luke Prokop made NHL history after he announced he is gay in a statement posted to Twitter Monday morning.
"It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life, but I could not be happier with the decision to come out," Prokop wrote. "I hope that in sharing who I am I can help other people see that gay people are welcome in the hockey community, as we work to make sure that hockey truly is for everyone."
❤️🧡💛💚💙💜 pic.twitter.com/7zqT0A2gJj— luke prokop (@lukeprokop_6) July 19, 2021
Prokop, 19, was signed to a three-year, entry-level contract in December. He was selected by Nashville in the third round of the 2020 NHL Draft.
According to the league, Prokop is the first player signed to an NHL contract to come out as gay.
"This is just the beginning of my journey and I am excited to see where it takes me, both in hockey and in life."
Predators General Manager David Poile commended Prokop's decision to come out in a statement released by the team Monday:
“Luke is a valued prospect of the Nashville Predators and we think he has a bright future. We want Luke to become a successful hockey player, and we understand his ability to be out comfortably will help him achieve his goals on and off the ice. We are committed to ensuring nothing stands in the way of his ability. His courage is an inspiration to us, and to the LGBTQ community in Nashville.”
Preds Captain Roman Josi said the team is fully behind Prokop following the young defenseman's announcement.
"Our message as a team [is that] we're obviously very supportive of him. 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."
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a statement following Prokop's announcement.
"On behalf of the National Hockey League, we are proud of Luke Prokop for today's announcement and I would like to thank him for sharing his truth and for being so brave," Bettman said. "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."