Second draft, hopefully de-flamed.
Usually, when an MMO is considered to be 'doing poorly', you have some fairly unsubtle indications of the fact. Shrinking server lists, shrinking dev teams, lack of new content, shrinking subscription lists, and so on.
City of Heroes had new content. It had a steady server list, a steady dev team. There were no warning signs, there were none of the usual indications of trouble.
So, yes, I think that there is plenty of grounds for everyone to be shocked by this.