Edmonton Oil Kings’ Luke Prokop wins WHL humanitarian award for pushing for inclusion in hockey

Edmonton Oil Kings player Luke Prokop, lt, battles for the puck with Calgary Hitmen player Zac Funk during WHL (Western Hockey League) hockey action in Calgary, Alta., on Saturday, March 5, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal

With his team preparing to compete for a Western Hockey League championship, Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Luke Prokop was named the winner of the WHL’s humanitarian award on Wednesday night.

The 20-year-old, who was selected by the Nashville Predators in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, was awarded the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy for what the WHL described as working “tirelessly to fight for inclusion in hockey and across sport.”

Prokop made national headlines last summer — while a member of the Calgary Hitmen — when he took to social media and announced that he is gay.

According to the WHL, he is the first openly gay player signed to an NHL contract.

READ MORE: Luke Prokop, Alberta-born NHL prospect, comes out as gay in Twitter statement

The league notes he is an ardent proponent of Kids Help Phone and also established the Shots for Impact program, donating $10 for each of his shots on goal to Kids Help Phone while also securing matching donations from the Oil Kings, Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation.

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Kids Help Phone is a mental health service offering free and confidential support to young people in Canada.

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On its website, the WHL also noted Prokop played a critical role in bringing about the Oil Kings’ first-ever Pride Day Game, hosted on April 9 at Rogers Place. The player helped work with Bauer Hockey to have custom skates made with Pride colours.

READ MORE: Edmonton mayor makes historic proclamation of Pride Corner on Whyte Avenue

The Oil Kings tweeted a video after the award was announced on Wednesday of Prokop standing on Edmonton’s Pride Corner on the first day of the city’s annual Pride Month.

“It’s a true honour to win this award,” he says in the video. “I’d like to thank my teammates, my friends, my family and Kids Help Phone for all the support this season.”

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READ MORE: Edmonton Oil Kings embracing chance to win WHL championship in series against Seattle Thunderbirds

Prokop and his teammates are preparing for Game 1 of the WHL final against the Seattle Thunderbirds. The puck drops on Friday night at Rogers Place to start the series.

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