They didn't win the Stanley Cup but the Calgary Flames won the heart of Canadian hockey fans.
And on Wednesday they were named Team of the Year by The Canadian Press and Broadcast News.
The Calgary Flames comfortably beat out Team Canada's World Cup hockey club by 246 points to 164 in balloting of sports editors and broadcasters across the country.
Darryl Sutter's squad had 62 first-place votes compared to 34 for Wayne Gretzky's Team Canada. The Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts were third with 12 first-place votes and 109 points.
The men's world champion hockey team won the award last year. Canada won the IIHF men's title again in May 2004 in Prague but finished fifth in voting with 62 points. The Canadian and world champion curling rink of Colleen Jones was fourth with 65 points.
That the Calgary Flames won the team award in a year when Canada captured both the World Cup and the world championship may be a surprise to some, but not to Sutter, the Calgary Flames' head coach and general manager.
"Quite honestly, I think that's based more on the fact we played a whole season," Sutter said in an interview. "Those were great accomplishments by those groups (Team Canada) but it's nice to see a team recognized for a whole season."
Calgary Flames superstar Jarome Iginla would have been a winner either way, having also played for the World Cup team in September. But he, too, understands why his Calgary side won out over Team Canada.
The Calgary Flames were the first Canadian team to reach the Cup final since the 1993-94 Vancouver Canucks, and the first NHL team to win the Team of the Year Award since the 1989-90 Edmonton Oilers. The 1988-89 Stanley Cup champion Flames also won the CP-BN award.
But unlike the '89 powerhouse Flames, this Calgary team was not expected to make hay in the spring. But did they ever.
The Calgary Flames came one win short of the 16 needed to lift Lord Stanley's coveted prize, in the process beating Vancouver in the first round, heavily favoured Detroit in the second round, San Jose in the conference final and falling in seven games to the talented Tampa Bay Lightning in the Cup final.
The Calgary Flames provided two months of memorable hockey, not only bringing pride to the city of Calgary but also filling their bandwagon with fans from across the country.
"The level of electricity in the building was just amazing, the Red Mile after the games, the traditions that were started, it was all amazing," said Iginla. "And even the rest of Canada, and the way fans across the country reacted to us - even hearing that all the way up in Edmonton fans were cheering for us, I would have never dreamt that was possible."
The Calgary Flames started the 2003-04 season simply hoping to make the playoffs for the first time after being out seven consecutive seasons. They made it by five points, placing sixth in the tough Western Conference with 94 points on the strength of a 42-30-7-3 record.
Iginla won't soon forget the feeling in Tampa after Game 7.