Known for the way he twirled an octopus over his head during NHL playoffs, the Red Wings' longtime Zamboni driver, Al Sobotka, has been terminated by the organization, media sources report.
Sobotka released a statement saying "I loved my 51 years with the Detroit Red Wings, and would have been happy to stay 51 more." There was no statement from the team, or reason given for the separation.
Sobotka was the popular building operations manager/Zamboni driver/barbecue chef for the team and generally one of the more popular Wings figures off the ice, especially come playoff time.
Sobotka, 68, began his career at The Olympia on the midnight shift sweeping floors, making $3.25 per hour.
Throwing octopi on the ice is a tradition with Red Wings fans dating to the 1950s; the cephalopod's eight arms are said to represent the eight playoff wins necessary to win the Stanley Cup. The team's mascot is Al the Octopus, and it was Sobotka's job to pick them up. Twirling them over his head ignited crowds at Joe Louis and Little Caesars arenas.