Gay NHL prospect Luke Prokop was traded Wednesday from the Nashville Predators organization to a minor league team operated by the same group that owns the Edmonton Oilers.
Officially, Prokop has been traded from the Calgary Hitmen to Edmonton Oil Kings. They play in the Western Hockey League. Prokop is from Edmonton.
Though the Predators drafted Prokop in 2020, he’s spent part of five seasons with the Hitmen. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Predators last December.
“The organization is really excited to welcome Luke to the Oil Kings,” said Oil Kings President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Kirt Hill,” via the WHL. “Luke is a player we know well having played against him in our division over the past three seasons. We feel he will bring a wealth of experience to our back end and is a player who can play big minutes for our group.”
Thank you Calgary! @WHLHitmen pic.twitter.com/UtcnSpr9ay— luke prokop (@lukeprokop_6) October 14, 2021
Prokop, 19, became the first out gay player signed to an NHL contract when he publicly came out in July. His announcement, which came about three weeks after Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib, was met with widespread support across the NHL.
In fact, Sir Elton John even called Prokop to congratulate him.
One of the most telling quotes surrounding Prokop’s coming out came from Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki, who said he didn’t think there could’ve been an out gay player in the NHL when he was growing up.
The 32-year-old remarked how much the hockey world has changed.
“To see this sport evolve where a young man feels comfortable enough to do this, I think it’s great,” Borowiecki said, via NHL.com. “I think it’s the growth of our sport. I think it’s the growth of all sports in general. Sports need to be a safe space for everyone, and hockey needs to go along with that.”
Prokop said he didn’t hear any gay slurs from teammates when he attended the Predators’ 2021 Developmental Camp.
Still a teenager, it could take some time before Prokop plays in the NHL — if he receives that chance. Until then, he’ll be living that minor league hockey life, which includes being traded on a whim.
But at least Prokop will be able to play in front of family and friends all winter long. This season promises to be a homecoming.