How did the San Jose Sharks spend their free day in D.C.? Not like you'd expect.

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 7, 2011; 8:54 PM

I'm pretty sure I've never pondered what it is that professional hockey players do on their days off, but whatever I thought it was, it wasn't what the NHL's San Jose Sharks did Monday afternoon. They were at the National Archives, crowding around the Declaration of Independence.

I guess I thought a day off for a professional hockey player would involve, I dunno, strippers or dentists or something.

"This is a great city," the team's coach, Todd McLellan, told me. "It's not someplace we visit every year."

And because the Sharks were gifted with a rare free day in Washington before Tuesday's game against the Caps, they decided on a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Archives. About half the players, along with some coaches and trainers, perused the Charters of Freedom in the Rotunda and then were ushered into a private room where archivists had placed items they thought might interest them.

In other words: as much stuff about Canada as they could find.

Waiting for them was the archivist, David Ferriero. The archivist grew up in Massachusetts, where boys are required to know how to play hockey, "although I wouldn't call what I did playing hockey," he confessed. His second cousin, Benn Ferriero, plays for the Sharks and had set up the tour three months ago. But the sports gods are nothing if not fickle, and on Sunday night, Benn was sent to the team's minor-league franchise in Worcester, Mass.

"You'd think they could have waited a day," the archivist muttered.

Except for the 6-4 team captain, Joe Thornton, who goes by the nickname "Jumbo," the hockey players were smaller than I thought they would be. I guess the skates add a few inches.

"We're going to show you a little snapshot of our collection, as well as a few surprises for those of you who are Canadian," the archivist said, urging the Sharks to move forward, the better to peruse the history on display.

"No gum, please, or candy," an Archives staffer announced.

Trevor Plante, the archivist detailed to describe the documents, said, "Do you dislike Sidney Crosby as much as I do?"

There were a few bitter chuckles.

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