Ummmm...I just saw this now and read it, but what did they do wrong? Why can't they break down the money over the length of the contract any way that they want to? Did they actually break any rules (that are written down) or was this just one of those you broke the spirit of the rules type of things?
The NHL just wanted to start making a stand against this type of contract. They don't believe he'll play out the life of the contract and still be playing wing for the devils 15 years from now, although it's possible given the way he plays. They're against teams offering that type of deal but technically no, it's not against the rules. Maybe they think those last years at around 550k will be below the league minimum at the time and used that as part of the ruling? Not sure there.
Really in theory it's no different than the Hossa deal. the Devils were kind of just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm sure they will make a rule before the next CBA is signed though.