At first, I thought Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter might be kidding. Then I realized: Darryl Sutter is not the kidding type.

During an interview after the Kings' practice session here Wednesday, Sutter raised my eyebrows a couple of times. He is in town for Thursday night's game against the Sharks at HP Pavilion -- the first of a home-and-home set that concludes Saturday at the Staples Center.

Sutter, as we all know, coached the Sharks from 1997-2002 before going on to stand behind the bench in Calgary and L.A. And in our conversation, he answered one of my questions by opining that some of his Sharks teams were just as outstanding on the ice as his Kings team that won the Stanley Cup last spring.

"We were as good a team as the team we have now," Sutter maintained, speaking primarily of the 2001-02 Pacific Division winning Sharks.

Is that really so? Well, those Sharks did reach the second round and came within a Game 7 goal of upsetting then-defending-champion Colorado. If Teemu Selanne had not blown a sure-thing wrap-around goal chance that night -- he rushed the shot and missed an open net — I suppose that the Sharks could possibly have gone on to win the whole thing. I wondered if Sutter ever pondered that muff by Selanne.

"No, I don't think of that," Sutter said. "I think about how I wish he would have been a healthy player when he was playing in San Jose instead of fighting a knee problem he had. I wish he would have had the chance to play here without that."

The knee injury was undisclosed during Selanne's two-plus seasons with the Sharks -- but he finally had surgery for it during the 2004-05 lockout, after he left the team. He has thrived ever since, still scoring goals in Anaheim at age 42.