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Tony La Russa spreads the love with other pro sports teams in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS - The day he resigned as manager of the World Series champion Cardinals, Tony La Russa was one hot commodity. After a farewell news conference, La Russa jetted to New York to joust with David Letterman.

The rest of the week? Well, he's spread the love to St. Louis' other pro sports teams while basking in the limelight.

After participating in a ceremonial puck drop before the Canucks-Blues hockey game Friday night, La Russa predicted the Blues wouldn't have to wait too much longer before winning their first Stanley Cup. The Blues have missed the playoffs five of the last six seasons but have a lot of young talent.

"It's coming, no doubt in my mind," La Russa said. "They've got too many good people in place. They're next on the list."

La Russa predicts more success next season for the Cardinals, whoever they choose as his successor. He talked with general manager John Mozeliak earlier Friday but hasn't been consulted during the manager search and doesn't expect to be.

"Not necessary," La Russa said. "I talked to Mo today, but they've got it figured. They don't need any help."

Now it's back home to Northern California, where La Russa has spent precious little time during a 33-year run as manager of the Cardinals, Athletics and White Sox, to ponder the next move.

After five days in retirement, the 67-year-old didn't seem to be in a hurry to jump back into the job market. He's been firm that he's done managing and doesn't want to be a general manager, either, often calling that job the hardest in baseball.

Asked whether he had a feel for his future employer, La Russa said: "Nah, I've got a feeling I'm tired of packing."

That's been a huge undertaking. La Russa's office at Busch Stadium was packed with books and mementos, including a stuffed Tiger from the 2006 Series.

"I'm excited," La Russa said. "But packing today brings you right back down to where you don't want to be. It's hard work."

The next season? "The ARF season," La Russa joked, referencing his Animal Rescue Foundation.

All smiles earlier in the week, La Russa was rinkside chatting with Blues president John Davidson while Game 7 winner and former New Hampshire all-state high school defenceman Chris Carpenter skated with the team on Thursday.

La Russa finally made good on a promise to watch the Rams practice, too, politely declining an invitation from coach Steve Spagnuolo to talk to the players.

"I didn't want to turn him into a coach three days after his retirement," Spagnuolo joked.

Not so shy, though, that he didn't mind standing in the middle of the field next to Spagnuolo for much of the workout.

"I gave him the whistle when he was coming over and said 'Let's go,'" Spagnuolo said. "He said 'No, no, I don't want any part of that.' He said he just wanted to sit up in the box and second guess all the decisions we make."

The day after the Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in Game 7, La Russa happily donned a Sam Bradford retro jersey while standing on the sideline with about a dozen players before the Rams upset the New Orleans Saints for their first victory.

On Friday night, he wore a No. 10 Blues jersey while parading the World Series trophy out to centre ice along with Carpenter and World Series MVP David Freese, also wearing customized Blues jerseys, before his second puck drop ceremony.

Two appearances, two jerseys. Throughout the Blues game, Cardinals highlights were shown on the video board in tribute to the franchise's 11th championship.

The other teams point at what La Russa and the Cardinals have done for them.

"Being new to the city and seeing that relationship between the sports teams is great," Blues defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "It's something we didn't have much of in Colorado.

"To see it here and guys' families hanging out together and kids playing together, it's wonderful to see."

La Russa also did the puck drop honours in 2006 after the Cardinals beat the Tigers in five games to win the World Series. This time he handed the puck to Carpenter's son, Sam.

"We just thoroughly enjoyed winning the world championship, the parade was great, the rally was great," La Russa said. "And any place you go in town, people are still happy.

"I guess it's true that we did win because I've been pinching myself and when I wake up it's all true."

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