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Peter DeBoer will win over Golden Knights fans by winning

Peter DeBoer doesn’t have a home in Las Vegas yet. He and his family are looking.

I assume they will eventually settle on one. Lots of inventory, this market.

But how cozy Golden Knights fans make him feel at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday and beyond is a different matter.

DeBoer has coached his share of games in T-Mobile, but he will stand behind the home bench for the first time when the Knights play the Carolina Hurricanes.

He was hired Jan. 16 to replace the fired Gerard Gallant, the Knights then at the front end of an eight-game road swing that would include the All-Star break and the team’s midseason week off.

It certainly wasn’t well-received news by a faithful and committed fan base, he who last coached rival San Jose being the one to replace a beloved figure throughout the community.

He who directed the Sharks to a seven-game playoff series win over Vegas last season suddenly in charge of all things Knights.

Well, that actually would be George McPhee, but you get the idea.

“(DeBoer) has been on the wrong side of things in Vegas too much,” Knights forward Alex Tuch said. “I think he wants people to cheer for him, not against him. So I bet he’s pretty excited about that.

“I think he sees potential in that building — how if we jump off to a good start, we can just swallow teams up.”

Here’s a thought: The more Vegas wins by a 7-2 count as it did Thursday at Florida — or at all — any lingering negative thoughts about DeBoer will quickly dissipate.

Because that’s who fans are.

What was predictably lost in some being upset with the move: While the Knights fired a really good coach in Gallant, they hired a really good one in DeBoer. Had he not been their choice, you can be assured the guy fired by the Sharks in December would have landed another job in the offseason, if not before.

He coached New Jersey and San Jose to the Stanley Cup Final, but perhaps his most impressive trait is how he adapts to the rosters he inherits.

Vegas has its share of young talent, and in DeBoer you have a coach whose success in juniors was immeasurable. He won championships and medals, time and again working with and developing skill.

He knows how to get the most out of young players.

He also has been adept at mixing veterans into such an equation, and Vegas certainly has its share. Expectations also don’t change under DeBoer, no matter your length of service. But he has excelled with star-type talent.

This part also could aid the Knights in their final 26 regular-season games: DeBoer arrived with no sense of loyalty to any player, only with the purpose of offering a lineup he believes can best compete each night.

He has no allegiances other than a desire to win.

Example: The Knights have scratched 37-year-old defenseman Deryk Engelland for three straight games in favor of 23-year-old Zach Whitecloud, whose resume now includes a grand total of four NHL games.

And the kid has responded by playing well, as have the Knights.

Just win, Peter

They are 4-2-1 under DeBoer and have outscored opponents 26-18. They are, but for a few lapses, playing far better on special teams than earlier this season. They’re pretty good at an extremely critical time.

“It’ll be nice to get to Vegas,” DeBoer said. “It’s seven in the row on the road (with him as coach). It’s hard to believe. It has flown by, but I think we’ve played well. We’ve gotten better every day. We’ve gotten a chance to get to know each other, and you can feel a belief developing in what we’re doing. We got to carry that over to our home rink, because there’s a lot of work left to do.

“Whether I’m popular (with the fans) or not, it’s the most electric building in the league that you walk into. I can’t wait to get there.”

He just needs to win, and yet if the Knights don’t do so enough in these final 26 games, it’s not like a coach hired in midseason after a controversial firing should receive much criticism.

Now, as for his bosses who made the move, that would be an entirely different story.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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