"I'm not saying it doesn't have it, I'm saying that on the Panasonics it can be turned off."
You are entirely missing the point. CATS and ABL are two different things. CATS is dynamic contrast, a user adjustable setting that is intended to increase perceived contrast at the expense of overall image quality. ABL is a hardware limiter built in to prevent drawing too much amperage from the power supply, killing the power supply in the process. Auto Brightness Limiters can not be turned off by the end user.
"Just a couple of more pics, showing what I mean by ABL."
Throughout my three plasmas, I have very rarely run in to the ABL, and never after doing a proper calibration on them. I notice your Contrast is at 85, and I immediately question that. Contrast controls how bright whites are, and therefore how quickly you will run in to the ABL. On my previous plasma, which was Panasonic, I ran Contrast in the 60 range and never noticeably bumped in to the ABL. Also, what temperature mode are you running in? Warm or Normal is pretty normal, and I wouldn't be surprised to find that running in Cool makes the rather blue ice extremely noticeable in ABL moments.
Your Sharpness is also cranked up way too high. 0 is likely the "off" point, and around 15 is where you will probably find perceived sharpness improvements at viewing distance without over-sharpened artifacts. Back in post #4 you say:
"Now, I could live with the dimmer ice, but the ABL drowns out details in the players by lowering the contrast ratio. In the second shot, notice that the player lights up and details on his jersey can be more easily made out."
You'll also notice in that seconds shot that the player has a nice glowing halo around him. This is due to Sharpness being cranked up to ridiculous levels. When ABL kicks in, that halo reduces in presence leaving you with the impression that the image is less sharp. In actuality, the less sharp image is more correct, but the human visual subsystem is super-easy to trick with things like over-sharpening.
You need to go back to calibration basics, get used to a properly calibrated set, then play the hockey game. A properly setup display is a lot dimmer than people think it should be, but after a day or two of use, you'll notice that things are actually a lot more film-like and natural. You'll also notice that cranking Sharpness down to 0-15 A) reveals a lot of detail that over-sharpening artifacts hide and B) makes aliasing a lot less pronounced on the current consoles as high contrast lines now don't have a halo highlighting them drawing attention.