Red Wings Zamboni driver says he was fired for peeing in ice runoff drain

Al Sobotka blames medical condition for piss break that got him axed

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Al Sobotka worked for the Detroit Red Wings for 51 years.
Al Sobotka worked for the Detroit Red Wings for 51 years.
Image: Getty Images

One man’s quick relief unfairly got him relieved from his duties as a zamboni driver for the Detroit Red Wings, he claims. After 51 years cleaning the ice for the Motor City’s professional hockey franchise, Al Sobotka, filed a discrimination lawsuit in Michigan’s Wayne County Circuit Court this week against Olympia Entertainment, which the Red Wings are a subsidiary of.

Sobotka claims his firing two months ago was due to incontinence instead of incompetence. The lawsuit states Sobotka has a health condition which makes him frequently pee. The 68-year-old couldn’t get to a restroom quick enough during the February deluge, so he urinated in a drain that carries ice runoff from the Zambonis at Little Caesars Arena. 

Thinking he was alone in the building, the tinkle commenced. Turns out Sobotka wasn’t the only one still working at the time. Someone saw his impromptu bathroom stop and reported it. Someone must’ve told Sobotka you’re in trouble for urine trouble. Sobotka’s lawyer claimed he was fired without a warning for the incident after a one-week suspension, making the former zamboni driver pissed off because of his constant need to piss.


“He performed services for the Detroit Red Wings including, but not limited to, handling day-to-day operations connected to the ice and the arena, including maintaining the practice ice, driving and maintaining the Zamboni, and taking care of the locker rooms,” the lawsuit states, per WDIV in Detroit.

Olympia Entertainment hasn’t commented on the situation, stating it’s a legal matter. Besides his pregame and intermission trips around the ice aboard the Zamboni, Sobotka became a cult figure among the Red Wings fan base for removing octopuses thrown onto the ice, waving around the creature to the delight of those in attendance. Sobotka’s lawyer claims Olympia Entertainment was aware of his urinary issues.


The lawsuit also states: “To access a restroom, (Sobotka) would have had to exit the garage and walk 60-70 feet to a public restroom. Instead, standing behind two zambonis and seeing no one around, he urinated into the pit, which contained water to be drained.”