The NHL Lockout Negotiations Have Been Kind Of A JokeBarry Petchesky10/02/12 10:05amFiled to: Lockout with your cock outNhl lockoutNhlDonald FehrGary BettmanNhlpaNewsEspnKHLNbcsn24EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkDid you know, that as of right now, the NHL season is still technically scheduled to start on time next Thursday? Yep, everyone is going about their business as if there's going to be meaningful hockey next week, as if all the best players will rushing back from Russia, as if the teams will re-hire all the staff they laid off. It's a joke, of course, and not the ha-ha kind. The league is expected to begin canceling games any day now, but only two weeks' worth at a time, which might be the most optimistic thing we've heard in a while.When the sides sat down on Friday, they were clear that they wouldn't be discussing the "core economic concerns." That's obviously not a promising start. Never was there a successful negotiation that worked out the minor issues first, rather than treat them as concessions to be made once the fundamental questions are decided. But Elliotte Friedman of the CBC reports that's exactly how the NHL and the Players' Association approached this weekend's talks: they planned to sweat the small stuff.