Ernie Russell grew up in Montreal and excelled as a player in both hockey and football. He was captain of the Sterling Athletics juniors in 1903 when they won the junior championship of Canada. That same year, he was also captain of the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association football team that won a Canadian junior title.
His first year of senior hockey was 1905 with the Montreal AAA but the balance of his playing career was spent with the Montreal Wanderers. He played on four Stanley Cup champions while with the Wanderers--1906, 1907, 1908, and 1910. Although he played for the Wanderers, Russell maintained a membership in the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association for football and other sports. This fact did not sit well with the membership and they expelled him. As a result, he did not play hockey during the 1908-09 season.
Russell returned to action the following season and played until 1914, his last four years being with the Wanderers of the NHA. He was a fast skater and an accomplished stickhandler, and although he weighed only about 140 pounds he averaged nearly two goals per game over his career.
He is perhaps best remembered for scoring a hat-trick in each of five consecutive games and for amassing the incredible total of 43 goals in only nine games during the 1907 season. That 1907 season proved to be a good year off the ice for Russell as well. He played halfback with the Montreal AAA that year when they won the Dominion Rugby Championship of Canada.
He was one of Montreal's best known and most respected athletes in his day, and lived in the city his entire life. Ernie Russell was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965.