Red Wings terminate longtime operations manager Al Sobotka

It’s not clear why the longtime ice guru was let go.

Al Sobotka has been a mainstay around the Red Wings organization for decades. He’s famous for cleaning up octopi that had been thrown on the ice and whipping it around his head to get the crowd fired up. He’s also known for his savviness behind the grill.

Well, it appears his legendary career with the Red Wings has come to an end. The Detroit News is reporting that the Red Wings and Al Sobotka have parted ways after 50+ years.

Sobotka, 68, began his career at The Olympia on the midnight shift sweeping floors, making $3.25 per hour. He’s been part of the organization for 51 years.

That’s how long he’s been around. The guy started with the Wings BEFORE Joe Louis Arena.

In a statement to WIIM, Sobotka said the following: “I loved my 51 years with the Detroit Red Wings, and would have been happy to stay 51 more.”

It’s not clear why the Red Wings are terminating Sobotka. In recent weeks, the ice at Little Caesars Arena has been poor. The Red Wings hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 26 and before the Wings lost in overtime, the game had to be paused for some time due to issues with the ice.

I’m not saying that’s why Sobotka will no longer work for the Red Wings, but one could draw conclusions that it might have something to do with it. However, we need to remember that Little Caesars Arena is a shared venue. It’s also home to the Pistons, and sometimes the turnaround for an NBA game to NHL game is tight. It should be noted that Sobotka’s antics with an octopus have been the center of controversy before, but I can’t imagine that being a sticking point right now. Regardless, fans deserve some explanation from the Red Wings organization about this one.

Whatever you want to think of Sobotka, he is a Red Wings legend. He’s been here through the lowest of the lows, and the highest of the highs. He will be missed.