March 4 (UPI) -- Less than two months after hiring him, the Ottawa Senators fired CEO Jim Little.
The team announced the unexpected move in a short statement Wednesday, saying, "The decision was made as a result of conduct inconsistent with the core values of the Ottawa Senators and the National Hockey League."
The Senators hired Little on Jan. 10 and said in a statement at the time that he was "part of our long-term strategy to redevelop and rebuild."
The team didn't disclose additional details about Little's conduct. In a statement released Wednesday, Little believed he was fired because of a "personal disagreement" with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk last month that included "very strong language."
"I was looking forward to helping the team and the city and the Ottawa Senators," Little said in the statement. "I wish the employees, the players and coaches well. They all deserve our support.
"The statement made today by the team contained some language that deserves some clarification. On Valentine's Day, the owner and I had a personal disagreement over the approach that I had been pursuing. I am a strong-willed person, and the disagreement included me using some very strong language with him over the phone, including swearing, which he did not appreciate and for which I later apologized.
"It was these events, to my knowledge, which led to my dismissal. Any other inference from the statement is wrong."
Earlier Wednesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was asked about Little's firing as the league's general managers meetings concluded in Boca Raton, Fla.
"It's not what you think or what would be suggested," Bettman said. "I generally don't comment on club personnel decisions, but it's not one of those things that we were discussing at the board meeting in December [after Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters resigned after admitting to using racial slurs]. It has more to do with internal operations."
The Senators (23-32-12) are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings this season.