GIMLI -- Colin Fraser didn't want his relationship with Brent Sutter to be a factor, so he worked his butt off and made an impression on the coach he knows better than most. Fraser need not apologize for making Canada's world junior hockey team, it's merely a coincidence that he is the captain of the Red Deer Rebels.
"All 32 guys were in the same boat trying to make the team," said Fraser, now in his fourth season with the Rebels. "Why should I be treated any differently? I felt I was treated the same anyone as else and I wanted to prove to everyone that I belong here. No, there was no (additional) pressure. It was just a challenge."
Don't think for a second that Canadian head coach Sutter, who happens to be the head coach, general manager and majority owner of the Rebels, gave Fraser any preferential treatment.
"To me, they're all one," said Sutter. "Fraz knows who I am. When he plays well, I pat him on the back. If he isn't pulling his weight, he gets kicked in the rump. That's the way it is."
Fraser will be throwing his weight around come Dec. 25, when Canada kicks of the round-robin portion of the World Junior Hockey Championship in Grand Forks, N.D., against Slovakia.
Being able to focus on a spot as a role player was a bonus for the guy who has nine goals, 28 points and 79 penalty minutes in 30 games this season.
"They don't need a lot of goal scorers on this team so I'm just going to try and provide some energy," said Fraser, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the third round of the 2003 NHL entry draft but traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Alexei Zhamnov deal on Feb. 19, 2004. "Take the man, get on the forecheck real hard and just make guys think twice before they go back and get the puck. They'll know that I'm coming."
With a team as talented as this one looks to be, Fraser's leadership and ability to contribute to a high-energy, in-your-face, fourth line is an obvious bonus.
"He's got tremendous character," said Sutter. "He knows what it's about to play in tough, big games and he's always one to step up when it occurs. That had some bearing too on him being here. He's just a solid, two-way guy who is very dependable."
Despite being a role player on a team filled with leaders, Fraser won't be shy about having his voice heard in the dressing room.
"I try to lead by example, by hard work and playing well every single shift," said Fraser. "In the room I'm a vocal guy and I'm not afraid to speak up."