Dearborn resident Ted Kulfan works in the press room during the 2008 Stanley Cup finals between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kulfan’s new book about the Wings, “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly,” is in stores now.
By J. PATRICK PEPPER
DEARBORN — There are only a handful of people who have seen as much Detroit Red Wings hockey as Ted Kulfan, and they were either on the ice or behind the bench.
Kulfan — a former Times-Herald sports reporter and sports editor from 1983 to 1990 — spent more than a decade covering the team for the Detroit News during one of the most successful runs in hockey history. From 1998 to 2009, the lifelong Dearborn resident documented everything from the glory of Stanley Cup ceremonies and individual awards to the agony of career-ending injuries and painful playoff losses.
In his fittingly titled new book, “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly,” Kulfan draws on this wealth of knowledge to take readers on a tour through the era that made Detroit “Hockeytown.” The 235-page book reads like a collection of interrelated news stories complete with sidebars and fun trivia, like why teammates call Johan Franzen, “Mule.” (Steve Yzerman gave him the moniker as a compliment because of Franzen’s strength around the net.)
In a recent interview we asked Kulfan some questions about his book, his beat and his Dearborn ties.
T-H: Where did you grow up?
TK: I lived so close to Fordson, I always walked home for lunch. Never ate a school lunch once. I have great memories of my friends and I playing ball at Maples Field, or Hemlock Park and eating Paisano’s Pizza.
T-H: What area do you live in now?
TK: Dearborn Hills.
T-H: What were some of the best memories from your time covering the Wings?
TK: The successful Stanley Cup runs in 2002 and 2008, particularly in 2002. That was a once-in-a-lifetime team. A Hall of Fame coach, a team with so many potential Hall of Fame players on it You were watching great hockey talent working together every night. It was a special treat.
T-H: What were some of the more dramatic things or outstanding incidents you remember from your time covering the Wings?
TK: The most dramatic was the night Jiri Fischer had a heart attack. I’ll never forget how quiet Joe Louis Arena was. Everybody knew something bad had happened, was happening. You just never expect something like that at a hockey game. And I remember interviewing Jiri that morning for a story. And then for him to have a heart attack on the bench later that evening … just unforgettable. Thankfully, everything turned out well. (Fischer survived the heart attack, but was forced into early retirement)
T-H: What about some moments that you shared with the team that didn’t make it to the newspaper?
TK: Just the fact you get to see these people every day, after practices and games, and after a while, you build a sort of working relationship with them. They really are just normal people.
T-H: How did you decide to go about writing the book?
TK: Triumph Books has published The Good, Bad and Ugly series throughout the country, with various baseball, football basketball and hockey teams. I was fortunate enough to be considered for the Red Wings book. George Cantor did one on the Tigers.When Triumph asked me to do it, I jumped at the chance.
T-H: How long did it take to write?TK: Over a year.
T-H: What challenges did it present?
TK: I just had to manage my time. I was still covering the team, obviously, so I had to set aside time on the side to write for the book.
T-H: Who is the target audience?
TK: Red Wings fans, and there are a lot of them in this area. Red Wings fans are as passionate as any fans I’ve seen throughout North America.