The fact that we didn't know, doesn't mean management didn't know about this.
This offseason we traded for one of the top goalies on the league and signed a couple of the best available free agents. This is what made you feel so optimistic, but these very same unusual (for us) signings and trades are (to me) a sign that LL knew what Kovalchuk would do long ago. Also, you have to think that at least Ryder ended up coming here partly because of #17. In Schneider's case...guess what, in 2 years you just became the face of the franchise.
He also announced it just as our cap space was small and with Henrique and Josefson still un-extended.
It's not his fault we lose next year's pick. First it'd be Bettman's fault for imposing that penalty in the first place, then also Lou's fault for not giving up that 29th pick.
It's also not his fault Parise didn't sign here. We had the cap space, the team, and the run to the Cup; he simply wanted to go play in his hometown with his boyfriend.
This absolutely sucks, and I understand that many feel betrayed, but I do think this was known by management before the season, before free agency...
I'm going to go Moneyball here and say you can't straight up replace Kovalchuk and his minutes and production, but you can build a winning team with the right pieces. This definitively got my mood down, but I'm not ready to say this is franchise ending as some have said. Let's see what happens in the next week...better yet, let's see what happens on the ice.