By Woody Paige
Denver Post Sports Columnist
Friday, June 01, 2001 - SOUTH LODI, N.J. - Propped up by his elbows
at the end of the bar in the Bada Bing club, Tony Soprano stared
stink-eyed at the big-screen TV showing the Stanley Cup Finals game,
sucked on a scotch-marinated ice cube, wiped his nose with his
trigger finger and sneered: "Fuhgetaboutit."
The New Jersey Devils had just fallen behind the Colorado Avalanche 3-
1 in the third period.
"When Jersey lost that first game out in Cowdirtland, it was dicey,
but no worry. Now I'm gonna haf to crack some Devil heads," Soprano
says. "Nothing more useless than an unloaded gun and a freakin' bad
Tony Soprano is the reputed "mob boss" for North Jersey - involved in
everything from stolen furs to counterfeit Devils tickets.
"I'm in waste removal," he said Thursday night. "Some of my accounts
are in bad neighborhoods, but I don't know nothin' about no illegal
stuff. I'm just a family man."
The sign on the wall says "Welcome To Tony Soprano's Bada Bing Club."
The Bada Bing - on traffic- and smog-infested State Route 17 about 30
minutes west of Manhattan - has gained a national reputation the past
three years because Soprano and his wise-guy pals and known
associates - Silvio Dante and Paulie Walnuts - hang out here. A woman
was beaten to death out back by the Dumpster, but nobody has been
The sign outside says "See Girls And Stanley Cup Games."
Within the amorphous building, the atmosphere isn't "Cheers"-like.
Bada Bing - dark and smoky and smelling of essence of urinal - is
decorated in early disco. A square bar surrounds a "dance floor"
where young women in assorted colorful undergarments cavort.
"Minimum," the bartender says, "is $25 - up front."
This is where Tony Soprano is watching Game 3 of the Stanley Cup
Finals on Thursday night.
"Hi you doing, Tony?" a visitor says.
"Hi YOU doing? Soprano says. "And who the duckbrain are you?"
"I'm Woody the Wreck, in from Denver. My cousin Vinny is close to
Uncle Junior, and I was hoping to have a little sit-down with you
during the game."
"You not some whack job, are you?"
"No, Tony. I just want to ask what you think of the Devs-Avs series."
"OK, you can sit there. But you show some respect when you're in my
"Yes, sir. How's Carmela?"
"You don't talk about my wife, or you'll be sleeping over at Giants
Stadium with Jimmy Hoffa."
"Tony, you pulling for the Devils tonight?"
"Ten Gs says I am. I like the hockey. You can beat up some schmuck,
and all you get is two minutes in the joint. I don't care for this
Colorado. Who even knows where Colorado is - somewhere in Canada.
What kind of name is Avalanche? Sounds like a bunch of snow bunnies."
Vito, who looks all mobbed up, strolls by: "How you doing, Tony?"
"How YOU doing?"
The game begins.
"Layla" (what else?) plays loudly on the sound system.
"Shut it off!" Soprano requests.
The Devils score on a power play 3 minutes, 16 seconds into the
"Easier than taking Social Security checks from old ladies," Soprano
The Avalanche ties the score at 9:22, and Soprano smashes his drink
on the bar. "I may haf to send the capos to break some thumbs before
the next game."
The Avs survive a 5 on 3. "What'd ya expect from farners?"
The first period ends tied 1-1. "Sylvia, more drinks, and get us a
couple of those double pepperonis from Pizzaland. Where the
The Avs are the aggressors in the second period. "Don't them Devils
have no shivs?" Soprano screams at the TV. Late in the period Avs
goalie Patrick Roy wanders afar, and the puck is wrested away by
Patrik Elias, whose shot plunks off the post. "Roy is a lucky stiff.
Mess with me, and he'll just be a stiff. I might haf to go over to
that arena and show them who's the boss."
A guy in an Elvis hairdo sits next to Soprano between periods and
slides a briefcase in front of him. Tony turns to the tourist and
says: "How 'bout a Rolex for 10 bucks?"
"Those fake Rolexes look real."
"They are. Want 50?"
In the opening minute of the third period, on a power play, Ray
Bourque lashes a slap shot past Martin Brodeur, and the Avs go up 2-
1. "He's older than me," Soprano says and busts the Elvis hairdo in
the gut. Minutes later the Avs score again. The Elvis hairdo runs.
Soprano grabs a pool cue and breaks it against the wall. "Them
Avalanche may haf to have an accident tomorrow.
"But I gotta go see my shrink tonight."
The Avalanche wins 3-1 and leads the series 2-1, and Tony Soprano is