Former junior teammates put pleasantries on hold

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

CHICAGO -- Colin Fraser was told somebody would like to talk to him about his friend on the Calgary Flames.

That would be Dion Phaneuf.

"My friend?" replied the Blackhawks fourth-liner. "You mean my enemy?"

Over these next couple of weeks, sure.

The other 350 days of the year, they're good buddies who keep each other on speed dial.

After all, they spent four full seasons together with the WHL's Red Deer Rebels, joining the team at the age of 16.

They also won a world junior title together in 2005.

Now, they're battling against each other to open the NHL playoffs.

"It's fun to battle," Fraser said. "There's a friendship, but at the same time, there's no friends on the ice. It's a fun time of the year. I'm sure he's looking forward to it."

Fraser's value to the Hawks can go beyond the ice in this series. He certainly has plenty of insight on Phaneuf, such as how to take advantage of his flaws or what buttons to push to get under the skin of the Flames defenceman.

"I don't really know any of those buttons," he said with a grin. "He's one of the top defencemen in the league. Everybody knows he's a great player. He's going to be a good player for them."

He can relate a few good stories about his buddy. One also involves current Chicago teammate Andrew Ladd and the infamous scraps they were involved in upon returning from representing Canada at the world junior tournament.

"Andrew and Dion squared off two seconds into the game. Then, (Ryan) Getzlaf and I squared off two seconds after that," Fraser said. "People looked into it, whether we liked each other or didn't like each other, but it was all fun.

"We laugh about it today."

In fact, Fraser and Phaneuf duked it out at the summer training camp before that tournament. Phaneuf was taking liberties with Sidney Crosby, who happened to be on Fraser's team during camp, so Fraser stepped in.

It caused quite a stir, but Fraser shrugs it off.

While Phaneuf enjoyed a rocket-like ascent to the NHL and has had standout seasons, Fraser had a longer, more arduous climb.

A third-round draft choice in 2003, he spent three full seasons in the minors before earning a full-time role with the Hawks this season. He had six goals and 17 points in 81 regular-season games.

Working his way up the ladder is something Fraser takes pride in.

"It's the kind of player I am -- work hard and work for everything I get," he said. "I'm not out there being a superstar and scoring goals. I know my role and stick with it. I have to be the hardest-working player on the ice."


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