What's European Soccer's labor situation? Is that what you have in mind when you consider a world without unions? Because they also benefit from extreme demand for their product that the NHL doesn't have. I think the CBA/Union is essential to giving the bottom half of the league stability to know it can keep doing business. Without any path to profitability since richer teams would simply steal their talent I don't think they could operate and would have to close down meaning fewer jobs for players.
European soccer does not have unions or collective bargaining. I do agree that they benefit from being the only game in town. Still, there's enough talent to go around - it would just mean some teams would have little to no chance at the Stanley Cup. I am not sure how player transfers work. I'm not in love with soccer's situation at all and I think the geography of the nations where soccer is most passionately followed helps a lot (you can be a fan of any team and be within easy travel of seeing them live), but on the plus side, they don't have lockouts there.