Predators prospect Luke Prokop comes out as gay
Luke Prokop #6 of the Calgary Hitmen skates to the bench against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place. Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images

Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop comes out as gay

Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop is the first NHL player, active or retired, to come out publicly as gay, ESPN's Emily Kaplan reported on Monday.

Prokop, 19, made the announcement in an Instagram post on Monday morning.

"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," the 6-foot-4 defenseman wrote.

Prokop told ESPN he made the decision to come out this past year, beginning to tell family members and teammates back in June. The Edmonton, Alberta product specifically pointed out Predators assistant GM Brian Poile as being incredibly supportive.

"I remember getting off that phone call and tears just started coming from my eyes, I was so excited," Prokop said. "And in that moment, I thought, this is what it's going to feel like for the rest of my life. For them to show that support that they did in that moment, it felt like I can rule the world."

Prokop said he has received support "behind the scenes" from other members of the NHL including commissioner Gary Bettman and that he believes coming out publicly will allow him to grow into a better hockey player.

"I'm going to lace up my skates the same. I'm going to put my jersey on the same, strap up my helmet, put on my gloves," he said. "But I'm finally going to be able to breathe and exhale and show the world the real me. And I'm so excited to see where that can take me, not only as a hockey player but as a person as well."

Chelena Goldman grew up on a street where the boys played street hockey and yelling at baseball and football over the radio was a standard -- making life as a sports geek the perfect fit. She believes in dominance on the blue line, good red wine, and the theory that you can never be too overdressed for any occasion. You can find her gabbing away on Twitter at @ChelenaGoldman.

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