al sobotka redwings

Red Wings Hope to Settle Zamboni Driver Lawsuit with Urinal Troughs

By Matt Grimminck


DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are bringing a piece of history to Little Caesars Arena as the team plans on installing the famed Joe Louis Arena urinal troughs lining the walls from the ice to the Zamboni garage.

In a statement from the team, the Red Wings said “bringing the urinal troughs are a vital part of Detroit hockey history. The team felt this would be a great opportunity to rectify a current controversy.”

The current controversy in question involves the dismissal of long-time Zamboni driver Al Sobotka, after he was caught urinating in a drain that collected ice run-off in the Zamboni garage last February.

Sobotka, 68, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the team after being diagnosed with benign prostatic hypertrophy, a condition that causes frequent and urgent urination.

“We plan on defending Mr. Sobotka using the ‘gotta go, when you gotta go’ defense,” Sobotka's attorney Deborah Gordon said. “Mr. Sobotka was too far from the bathroom and thought he was alone as he relieved himself.”

The Red Wings dismissed the popular Zamboni driver after decades of employment but are willing to move forward with Mr. Sobotka.

“This is the perfect opportunity to make amends,” a statement from the team said. “Now, more facilities will be available that are slightly less private and slightly less degrading – Mr. Sobotka just needs to drop his lawsuit.”

The urinal troughs, a fixture in “Hockeytown”, were long steel containers with no privacy walls, found in men’s rooms throughout Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wing’s former arena.

According to the team, the troughs would line the walls starting from the ice entrance to the Zamboni garage.

“That is tempting,” Sobotka said. “Nothing brings back the glory days like standing at those troughs, pretending not to notice the guy standing next to you as you’re doing your business. Back in the day, Darren McCarty dented one of them with his bare fists.”

End of the Bench will have more on this story as it develops.

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