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TORONTO (Reuters) - Brett Hull joined his father "the Golden Jet" Bobby Hull in the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, offering heartfelt thanks and stinging criticism as he prepared to take his place among the sport's greats.
A pure goal scorer who was never afraid to shoot or speak his mind, Hull will be formally inducted during ceremonies later on Monday alongside Steve Yzerman, Luc Robitaille, Brian Leetch and New Jersey Devils executive Lou Lamoriello.
The only father-and-son combination to play in the NHL and be enshrined in the Hockey Hall, Hull talked of following in his father's "giant footsteps" and lamented the lack of respect today's players have for each other on the ice.
The induction comes as the NHL is dealing with a rash of vicious head shots. The issue will be one of the main topics on the agenda when NHL general managers meet in Toronto on Tuesday.
Calls for change grew louder last week after a promising 16-year-old playing in Canada's top development league was slammed into the boards and had to be airlifted to a hospital in critical condition with multiple skull and facial fractures.
"The responsibility is on the players to have a little respect for each other," said Hull, whose many individual honors over a 20-year career include a Lady Byng trophy as the NHL's most sportsmanlike player. "There are going to be hits where people get hurt but somebody has got to do something about the unnecessary head shots.
"I don't think there is any respect in the game or it wouldn't happen."
Regarded as one of the greatest classes inducted into the Hockey Hall, all four players were first ballot entries, Hull, Yzerman and Robitaille winning a Stanley Cup together in 2002 as members of the Detroit Red Wings.
But Hull's strongest bond to the Hall is with his father, both men scoring over 600 goals and 1,000 points in their brilliant NHL careers.
Despite his hockey pedigree, Brett Hull did not immediately appear destined for a Hall of Fame career.
A late round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 1984 NHL draft, Hull spent time in the minors before finding his way to the NHL winning two Stanley Cups and the Hart trophy in 1991 as the league's most valuable player.
He is just the fifth player to score 50 goals in 50 games or less and for three consecutive seasons scored 70 goals or more, including a career-high 86 in 1991.
Hull's 741 career goals rank third on the all-time list behind Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe.
"I realized when I was 15 that it wasn't just going to be in hockey but life in general if I didn't become Brett Hull and figure out who Brett Hull was -- while still honoring and loving the fact I was Bobby Hull's son -- I wasn't going to be anyone," said Hull, currently co-general manager of the Dallas Stars. "My mom was so supportive.
"She gave me my laid back attitude where trying to live up to Bobby Hull didn't seem like that big a deal to me."
"To be a hockey fan and know what my father did and what he meant to this game... to be part of that is something else.
"You don't start your career thinking I'm going to be in the Hall of Fame and all of sudden you're here.
"It's mind boggling."
Editing by Alison Wildey