Calgary Hitmen blueliner and Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop made history on Monday.
The 18-year-old from Edmonton became the first Western Hockey League player and the first player under contract with a National Hockey League team to publicly come out as gay.
“While the past year and a half has been crazy, it has also given me the chance to find my true self,” Prokop said in a social media post. “I am no longer scared to hide who I am.
“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. 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.
“I wouldn’t be able to do this without my amazing family, friends, and agents – who have known this about me and met me with love and support every step of the way. 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.”
Since Prokop’s announcement, he has received an incredible amount of support from across the hockey world, including from his older brother Josh.
“Words cannot describe how proud I am of you each and every day,” said Josh, who was the captain of the Hitmen this past season during his overage campaign in the WHL. “The amount of strength and courage you have displayed is truly remarkable. Being able to play hockey with you is just a bonus on top of being your brother.”
“We’re obviously very proud of him for taking that step,” Predators captain Roman Josi added. “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.”
The seventh overall pick by the Hitmen in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, Prokop has posted 41 points in 150 games thus far in his junior career and served as an assistant captain for the club this past season.
He was a third round pick (70th overall) by the Predators in last year’s NHL Draft and signed an entry-level contract in December.
Around the WHL
Kamloops Blazers head coach Shaun Clouston has a new job title as he was given the club’s general manager duties on Tuesday.
Clouston has been with the Blazers since 2019 and previously held both jobs for the Medicine Hat Tigers for seven seasons.
Matt Bardsley had held the general manager job in Kamloops until May, when he stepped down from the position.
He has since taken an amateur scouting role with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
The Vancouver Giants added a pair of veterans to their roster on Monday as they acquired 19-year-old forward Payton Mount and 19-year-old blueliner Cade McNelly from the Seattle Thunderbirds in exchange for a second round pick in 2023 and a fifth round pick in 2024.
Mount, who is from Victoria, was the 19th overall pick by Seattle in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft and has recorded 68 points in 140 career games.
McNelly, who calls Westlock, Alta. home, has put up 17 points in 121 regular season contest and has also recorded 315 penalty minutes during that span.
The Everett Silvertips also made an addition to their lineup on Monday as they signed 18-year-old Finnish forward Niko Huuhtanen.
The second overall pick in last month’s CHL Import Draft had 34 points in 37 games last year for Tappara’s Under-20 program and recorded five points in seven games for his country at the World Under-18’s.
He’s also a potential mid-round pick at this weekend’s NHL Draft.
Everett also made a trade last Wednesday as they acquired 20-year-old blueliner Jonny Lambos from the Brandon Wheat Kings for a seventh round pick in 2023.
The older brother of Winnipeg Ice defenceman Carson had 19 points in 127 regular season contests for the Wheat Kings.
In off-ice news, Edmonton Oil Kings director of player personnel Jamie Porter has left the club to take an amateur scouting position with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.
Porter had been with the Oil Kings since 2018 and had previously served in a variety of roles with the Swift Current Broncos for 16 seasons.