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Former NHLer uses power of team to serve Stouffville community



If there’s one thing Keith Acton knows, it’s the power of team.

A 16-year-veteran of the National Hockey League, Acton reached the pinnacle of the game, winning the Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in the late ‘80s. Following his retirement, he opted to stay with the game as an assistant coach for many years.

When he finally stepped away, he settled in his hometown of Stouffville and opened a Boston Pizza franchise in 2007.

Not surprisingly, he found himself in familiar surroundings. 

“One of the biggest things I realized when I opened this business, it was all about team, again” he said during a chat at his restaurant, one of the venues for the upcoming Wintersong Festival that will be held in Stouffville March 25 and 26. “When you’re on a hockey team you’re working together strategically to accomplish a common goal and a business is a lot the same.”In professional level sport, Keith explained, you create a team atmosphere where it’s one-for-all and all-for-one and the goal is to be the champion. Business, he added, it’s the same thing.

“The only way you can do is to have a group of people who are committed to that goal and will do what needs to be done to achieve it,” Keith said. 

So, when his staff advised him of the opportunity to be a part of the Wintersong Festival, it didn’t take long to decide. 

“Our general manager, Tyler McNeil, and our community relations coordinator Joanna Curtis, both live in our community and have a strong connection to the community,” Keith began. “The organizers of Wintersong approached them to see if we were interested in hosting local performers as part of the festival. 

“We talked for about 10 seconds and all raised our hands – we’re in.”Boston Pizza will be hosting four performances on both Friday and Saturday nights.

And they won’t be alone.

A dozen venues have signed up to host the more than 50 performers who are going to be featured over the course of the two-day festival. And while most of the talent is local, there are a few interlopers in from out of town to make a mark, including Bif Naked, Charles Spearin from Broken Social Scene and The Darcys.

“You know, after the past couple of years, I think this festival will do something beyond showcasing local talent,” Keith said. “It will give us all a chance to come together around a shared positive experience. It’s good for the community and I think it’s going to be good for all us as well.”

Main photo: Keith Acton played 16 seasons in the National Hockey League. To run a successful business, he relies on the power of team.

Top photo row, from left: The Darcys, Wilson and the Castaways, Cassie Noble and 50 Foot Jesus.

Bottom photo row, from left: Charles Spearin, Bif Naked, Bernadette Connors and Bad Holiday.

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Wayne Doyle is the manager of marketing and communications for the York Region Arts Council. Wayne is always looking for great stories to share with readers of If you’ve got a York Region story to tell, contact Wayne:

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