Like other NHL teams, the Edmonton Oilers held their Pride Night for the season in a game Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. But the Oilers’ celebration had a twist — they were able to honor an active player who is gay, Luke Prokop.
Prokop, 19, plays for the Edmonton Oil Kings, the Oilers’ Western Hockey League franchise, and he came out as gay in July. If Prokop makes it onto an NHL roster, he will be the first openly gay player in league history.
The Oilers also used the event to raise money via a 50/50 drawing for MacEwan University’s Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity, which “supports cutting-edge, community-based research, teaching and service work related to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.” The players wore Pride Tape during pregame warmups and then went out and beat the Devils for their fifth win in a row.
After coming out, Prokop did not keep quiet about being gay like some other pro athletes. He has a rainbow flag on his Instagram profile and has been vocal about the need for inclusion and visibility for LGBTQ athletes, such as his post on National Coming Out Day last October.
Being out has not seemed to hurt Prokop’s on-ice performance. He has 10 goals and 22 assists in 48 games with the Oil Kings this season. In his previous 155 Western Hockey League games that go back the previous five seasons, he had scored eight total goals. So much for coming out being an athletic detriment.