Russell "Barney" Stanley learned to skate on the ponds and rivers in and around the small hamlet of Paisley in the heart of rural Ontario's dairy country. It was there as a young man that he honed his hockey skills while playing for the local Paisley Hockey Club from 1909 to 1911. He moved west to Edmonton in the summer of 1911 and played for the Edmonton Maritimers of the Alberta Senior Hockey League during the 1911-12 season, scoring four goals in five games during his senior year. For the next three seasons he handled the dual responsibilities of playing and coaching with the Edmonton Dominions and Albertas in the ASHL before signing on with the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in February 1915.
One of Stanley's greatest thrills in hockey occurred during his first game with Vancouver when Cyclone Taylor assisted on his first professional goal in a game at Portland. Vancouver moved on to the PCHA championship that season and hosted the 1915 Stanley Cup series against Ottawa Senators, winners of the National Hockey Association championship. Stanley scored four goals in the third game of the series as Vancouver defeated their Eastern opponents handily by a combined score of 26-8. The victory brought Vancouver its first and only Stanley Cup.
Stanley was a PCHA Second Team All-Star in 1918 and continued with Vancouver until the 1919-20 season when he gained amateur reinstatement and was named the playing coach with Edmonton of the Big-4 League. He turned professional once again with Calgary of the Western Canadian Hockey League in 1921-22 and played with teams in Regina and Edmonton until 1926. After a season as playing coach with the Winnipeg Maroons of the AHA, Stanley was named manager and coach of the Chicago Black Hawks in September 1927. He posted a 4-17-2 record behind the bench and even appeared in his one and only NHL game that season.
He moved from Chicago the following season and participated in his last games as a player with the Minneapolis Millers of the AHA in 1928-29. Stanley moved back to Edmonton in 1929 and coached the Edmonton Poolers junior hockey club for three seasons.
Barney Stanley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.