Hitmen defenceman Luke Prokop feeling good about his decision to come out as gay in the summer
Luke Prokop has always had to make quick decisions when he's on the ice as a Calgary Hitmen Defenceman. Away from it, the 193 centimetre (6 foot 4 inch), 99 kilogram (218 pounds) rearguard had to make a decision that would change his life forever.
In July, the 19-year-old announced on social media that he was gay. Prokop, a draft pick of the Nashville Predators became the first player under contract to an NHL to come out.
Prokop says it wasn't an easy decision but the Predators made it a lot easier for him.
"From the Predators' standpoint, they probable made it so concrete for me to feel comfortable coming out," Prokop said.
"After I had my phone call with assistant general manager Brian Poile, the extended phone call with the rest of the management team that really solidified my confidence that they had my back 1,000 per cent and I can do this."
STILL HAVING FUN
Prokop attended Predators training camp this year and said he had an amazing experience. He's now back in Calgary patrolling the blue line for the Hitmen.
On the weekend, Prokop scored his first goal of the season in a 4-1 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Prokop says nothing has changed with his teammates. They're the same fun bunch."
"The guys have been really great about it. We like to make jokes here and I'm totally okay with that."
"I participate actively in those jokes. Its good humour and I really enjoy being around the guys."
"They treat me the same as they always have and I assume that's the way it's going to be on the ice as well."
TEAMMATES FULLY SUPPORT PROKOP
Hitmen Goaltender Brayden Peters has always looked up to Prokop. He helped him get adjusted when he got into the league.
Peters says he and his teammates fully support Prokop.
"You know nothing changes for me," Peters said.
"He's still my best friend, a great guy, a great leader, a great teammate on this team and a great hockey player as well."
HOPING TO HELP OTHERS
Coming out was a brave thing for Prokop to do. He says for the most part all the feedback has been positive.
And who knows maybe down the road it will help others who are in the same situation. Prokop says he hopes so.
"I hope showing what can maybe help give some comfort to other people out there and make them feel comfortable to come out as well," Prokop told CTV.
"I mean again it's on their own time. They don't have to feel pressure to do it if they don't want to and they can just keep it private as well."
Prokop and the Hitmen will try to pick up their first win of the season when they host the Swift Current Broncos on Sunday afternoon at the Scotiabank Saddledome.