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Photo Credit: Candice Ward/WHL

Hitmen defenseman Luke Prokop comes out

Calgary Hitmen defenseman Luke Prokop is many things. He’s a son, a brother, a teammate, and a really good hockey player. He was the 73rd player selected in the 2020 NHL Draft (by Nashville). Now, he’s decided to publicly announce that he’s gay.

The 19-year-old Prokop is a 6’4″, 218 pound right shot defenseman. He was drafted in part due to his physical gifts, but also due to his intangibles, such as his work ethic and leadership. He’s played three full seasons with the Calgary Hitmen (and part of a fourth season) dating back to when he was just 15, and he’s served as an alternate captain both with the Hitmen and with Hockey Canada’s Under-17 national team.

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Hockey culture can be pretty insular and intimidating at times. The emphasis is often put on team over individual players, to the point where players may feel hesitant to speak out or express themselves fully. So it’s pretty impressive to see a hockey player, especially one who’s still a teenager, decide to do so and become a standard-bearer in their community for both sporting excellence and inclusion.

Unless he makes the Predators’ roster out of training camp, and that would be a surprise, Prokop is expected to return to the Hitmen for the 2021-22 season and again serve as alternate captain in what will likely be his final WHL campaign. We look forward to seeing him complete his junior career and seeing how his NHL journey unfolds in the coming years.