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Red Wings Zamboni driver suing over firing

Al Sobotka filed a discrimination lawsuit this week against Olympia Entertainment, two months after he was fired.
Credit: AP
** FILE ** Detroit Red Wings' zamboni driver Albert Sobotka twirls an octopus after it was thrown onto the ice during the National Anthem before their NHL hockey game against Chicago Blackhawks in this April 7, 2007 file photo in Detroit. The octopus and its eight tentacles are symbolic of the amount of wins necessary to win the Stanley Cup during the early years of the NHL. (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza)

DETROIT — A popular Zamboni driver for the Detroit Red Wings said he was dismissed for urinating in a drain.

Al Sobotka filed a discrimination lawsuit this week against Olympia Entertainment, two months after he was fired, following 51 years with the Red Wings. His lawyer said he has a health condition that causes him to frequently urinate.

Sobotka, 68, couldn't get to a restroom so he urinated in a drain that carries ice runoff from the Zamboni machines at Little Caesars Arena. Someone saw him and apparently reported it in February.

“He thought no one was in the building,” attorney Deborah Gordon said. “He was given no warning, no second chance.”

An email seeking comment was sent to Olympia Entertainment.

Besides steering the Zamboni at Red Wings games, Sobotka was known for removing octopus thrown to the ice by fans, a Detroit tradition at Olympia Stadium, Joe Louis Arena and now Little Caesars Arena. Fans cheered as he twirled the sea creatures over his head.

Gordon said management was aware of Sobotka's prostate problem.

“I was shocked,” Sobotka told WDIV-TV, referring to his dismissal. “I didn't know what to say. Heartbroken, yes.”

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