After reading Hooks' wonderful piece about Kovalev and the Penguins, I decided to investigate the interwebs for news from around the time Kovalev was first traded away from the Pens. This Post-Gazette article gives a good sense of what it was like, those many (8) years ago.
"Naturally, it's no fun when you have to let somebody like Alexei go," Patrick said. "He's meant an awful lot to us, and not only on the ice. He's forever giving to the community and just a great human. He's an individual we don't like to see go, but the fact of the matter is we couldn't have kept him beyond this year, so ... we had to make the move."