Both would serve to keep salaries within a certain range - i.e. cost certainty. Isn't that what the owners want? Why can't they settle for a meaningful soft cap? Here's why I think a soft cap is better: Stevie Y. Still a very good player, but he's not going to contend for the scoring title. At the same time though, he brings a ton of revenue for the Wings. People buy jerseys, tickets, and watch on ESPN because Y is playing. Say that he feels like he can play for another 2 years and will sign a contract for $2.5MM/year. Scenario #1 - Hard cap: Detroit only has $500k worth of space to work with. "Steve, we'll give you every penny of that $500k, but that's all we can do. Sorry." Yzerman either retires or goes to play somewhere else. Scenario #2 - Soft cap: Detroit only has $500k worth of space to work with, but since he's only going to play 2 more years, they're willing to pay a tax on the $2MM/year overage. Y gets to play 2 more years, he gets to retire with the Wings, and lots of attention (and revenue) is given to the league - both locally and on national TV. Which is better for the league? With a meaningful soft cap, teams have the flexibility to keep a good team together for a few years, but won't be able to pull a NYR and sign every big name UFA that comes up. A meaningful soft cap and hard cap accomplish the same thing - controlling costs. However, only one gives successful, revenue generating teams the flexibility necessary to stay successful and keep generating revenue.