Nicknamed "Snowshoes" for his plodding style of skating, Stanley played for four of the Original Six teams after breaking into the NHL with the New York Rangers during the 1948-49 season. But it was with the Maple Leafs in the 1960s that he became known as one of the NHL's best defensive defensemen. He and longtime partner Tim Horton anchored a defense that helped Toronto win Cups in 1962, '63, '64 and '67.
Stanley played with Toronto through the 1967-68 season and finished his career with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1968-69 as a 43-year-old. He retired with 100 goals and 433 points in 1,244 regular-season games, as well as six goals and 39 points in 109 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player in 1981.
Stanley and fellow Hall of Famer Tim Horton were instrumental in Toronto's run of three consecutive Stanley Cups from 1962-64. At age 41, he was still taking a regular shift when the Maple Leafs became one of the oldest teams (average age 31) to win the Cup by beating the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the 1967 Final.
After Stanley retired as a player, he ran a resort and hockey school near Bobcaygeon, Ontario. He also enjoyed being part of Maple Leafs history as a member of the franchise's last championship team.
"I don’t go through a day without somebody reminiscing about the old days,” Stanley told the Toronto Star’s Paul Hunter in 1987. “I love talking about it. It was my life. I loved every part of it."