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Court Papers Show Red Wings Fired Sobotka For Urinating In Public



Al Sobotka, Detroit Red Wings

A wrongful termination lawsuit filed in Wayne County, Michigan Circuit Court by former Detroit Red Wings arena manager and Zamboni driver Al Sobotka is claiming that his rights were violated under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

The documents on file are stating that Sobotka is a victim of discrimination on the basis of his age (67) and disability. The lawsuit is further claiming that Sobotka is suffering from benign prostatic hypertrophy, an ailment which is causing him to suffer from a frequent and uncontrollable need to urinate.

The statement of claim goes on to further explain that on Feb. 2, 2021, after driving his Zamboni from the ice surface, overcoming Sobotka was the sudden need to urinate. The nearest washroom facility was some 60-70 feet away. Thus, Sobotka ended up making the decision of urinating into a drainage sewer. After the completion of snow removal from the ice by the Zamboni, unloading of the snow into these drainage ditches takes place. According to the statement of claim, this area is off limits to the public, except for the all-male crew that works on the Little Caesars Arena ice.

According to the lawsuit, witnessing Sobotka urination was another Red Wings employee. That employeed ended up filing a complaint with human resources.

Initially the Red Wings made the decision to be issuing Sobotka a one-week suspension over this matter. However,  Sobotka was ultimately given termination papers on Feb. 17.

The Detroit Free Press was first to be reporting details of the lawsuit. None of these claims have been proven in a court of law.

Longtime Team Employee

Sobotka began working for the Red Wings in 1971. He was part of the midnight crew cleaning up at Olympia Stadium. Sobotka rose through the ranks to become the building operations manager. He served in this capacity at both Joe Loius Arena and when the team relocated to Little Caesars Arena in 2017.

Sobotka also oversaw the quality of the ice. However, making him iconic to the Red Wings faithful was Sobotka’s role as the team’s main Zamboni driver and chief octopus swinger .

Al Sobotka Was Red Wings’ Chief Octopus Swinger

It wasn’t officially game night until Sobotka scooped up the first octopus off the ice surface. Giving it a victorious 360-degree swing over his head, Sobotka was also whipping a capacity crowd into a frenzy.

During the playoffs, the team would hoist a massive purple octopus into the arena rafters. Players on the team lovingly gave the giant cephalopod the nickname Al.

Sobotka was also famous around the rink for his barbecue. He would fire up his grill and cook up a savory feast for the players to enjoy post-practice.