Player's Own Voice podcast: Celebrating with hockey trailblazer Luke Prokop
'Nothing but support from colleagues' says the first openly gay player under NHL contract
Luke Prokop was only 19 years old when he made pro sports history.
A year after the Nashville Predators picked him in the 2020 NHL draft, Prokop told his team, his sport, and the wider world that he was gay. He is the first player under NHL contract to do so. This season, he has also bumped up to playing plenty of AHL games, making him the first out gay player at that level, one step away from the top team.
In a sport that has struggled to be at the forefront of inclusion, how are things going for Prokop? So far, excellent. No stupid chirps from opponents, nothing but support from within the organization, and a heart-warming flow of encouragement from big names and journeymen, on and off the ice.
Prokop has reason to praise his organization. Tennessee is a conservative state, but inclusive events are happening in Nashville, because the team owners believe the game is supposed to be for everyone.
Perhaps the only downside for the 6-foot-6 defenceman is that, being the one and only known gay man in professional hockey, he is requested to speak on inclusion in sports, all the time. As Prokop summarizes with Anastasia Bucsis on Player's Own Voice podcast's 150th episode, that can be a distraction. Once in a while, the lifelong hockey player is grateful to just shut up and skate.
The thing is though, Prokop loves his sport so much, he's willing to help in whatever ways are needed for the greater good of the game, even if it does perhaps get in the way of his own career. He understandably wants to be remembered as more than "the gay NHL guy," and Prokop's honest desire is that with time and a little luck, he'll be celebrated for nothing but his on ice heroics.
WATCH | Prokop details becoming first openly gay player under NHL contract:
There are transcripts of our podcasts for a hard-of-hearing audience. To listen to Luke Prokop, Laurence St-Germain, Hilary Knight or any of the guests from earlier seasons, go to CBC Listen or wherever else you get your podcasts.