A flash of light, followed by intense pain and confusion, sent Kristian Huselius running for water.
Seconds after adding fuel to the fireplace in his Stockholm apartment, the retired Calgary Flames winger was horrified by what he saw in his bathroom mirror.
“My face was a mess and my shoulder was on fire,” said the 40-year-old Swede of a perilous incident Saturday that left the majority of his face, right shoulder and right hand with extensive burns. “My fireplace exploded and I ran to my bathroom to get some water on my face and when I did that I realized my shoulder was burning. I had fire on it. When I got the fire to stop I panicked.
“I called 911 in Sweden and told them my address and that they had to hurry up because I was on fire. I opened my door and I think I passed out because after a while they came and I was lying on the floor.”
Huselius was rushed to hospital where he remained in the intensive care unit for several days before returning home for the first time Wednesday.
A graphic photo (which you can see here if you choose to) of Huselius’ face appeared online courtesy of Swedish sports paper Sportbladet. It prompted a text from fellow Swede and current Flames scout Hakan Loob, followed by a message via Instagram from former teammate Mike Commodore.
They wished him well and wanted to know, like the rest of the hockey world, what happened.
“I don’t really know how it happened — I was going to put some fuel on it and it just exploded and everything went so fast,” said Huselius via cellphone.
“I just came back to my apartment for the day and haven’t really talked to anyone about how it could happen.”
Huselius said there is fire damage to several couches, a table and carpeting near the fireplace, which has him amazed things weren’t worse.
“I’m really lucky because my whole apartment could have a big fire,” he said, adding that he feels even more fortunate his injuries weren’t more extensive. “The doctor told me I was lucky to be alive. My face is kind of a mess right now. I have a lot of pain — that’s a problem too. But they think my face is going to be fine. My shoulder is not as good. I might have to have surgery to get some new skin but I will wait a few weeks to see how much damage it is.
“I’m fortunate. I will have scars, but it could have been worse.”
He’ll spend the bulk of next few weeks in and out of the hospital, where he’ll have his burns dressed and progress monitored.
Huselius was a six-time 20-goal scorer who spent 11 years in the NHL with Florida, Calgary and Columbus, including a 34-goal, 77-point season with the Flames.
One summer later he signed a four-year, $19-million deal with the Blue Jackets and retired in 2013 due to a frustrating hip injury that has prevented him from playing even recreationally ever since.
Huselius said he keeps busy raising his 12- and 15-year-old daughters, who are elite handball players on a club for which he acts as strength and conditioning coach.