The penalty was for the first contract. The Devils would have been punished regardless of whether Kovalchuk signed a 2nd contract or not. The Devils are already subject to cap recapture on Kovalchuk's 2nd contract.
max: The Devils could've gotten Vanek anyway. They didn't have the cap room after the Ruutu deal.
That still doesn't explain why the league is lessening the punishment.
OK, here's how I see it. A long (long) time ago, I was so PISSED when we traded Paul Ysebaert (sp?) for Lee Norwood. PY was leading the AHL in scoring, traded for an aging 'rent a' defenseman. Then PY never amounted to anything and I realized Lou and whomever he trusts with his hockey decisions is way more intelligent than I, a fan.
I know this is over-simplifying, but I think when things are brought out on this forum, so-and-so sucks, Lou & co. already know it and can only do so much about it.
Honestly, I'm not sure if that's even why you started this post, but I thought I'd add my 2¢ anyway. :-)
Not for nothing, but Paul Ysebaert scored 30+ goals for the following 2 seasons in Detroit. I'd hardly call that amounting to nothing. Not saying it was a good or bad trade at the time, but with 20/20 hindsight, I'd say Ysebaert probably gave the Wings better service than Norwood gave us in his 28 games here.
This has nothing to do with Kovalchuk going to the KHL. Nothing at all. Remember, the penalty is for the first contract.
If this league actually made rulings and enforced punishment based upon some semblance of objective thought, I'd be able to see your point. However, I would really like to hear what you think this is based on since you seem to feel that there is enough evidence regarding an actual body of reasoning for this change to negate our tin-foil hat theories. I honestly think this has everything to do with the league feeling bad for punishing us for a player who isn't still here. I don't see any other real reason for the league to do this because according to the strictures of the ruling, they don't have to do anything but enforce the punishment as meted out.