Senators fire CEO Jim Little just two months after his hiring

The Ottawa Senators have fired CEO Jim Little less than two months after hiring him to the position.

The team announced the surprising 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."

Little was hired Jan. 10 and touted in a statement as "part of our long-term strategy to redevelop and rebuild." The team did not disclose any details about Little's conduct.

"I was looking forward to helping the team and the city and the Ottawa Senators," Little said in a statement Wednesday. "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 [Eugene Melnyk] 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 GM meetings wrapped up.

"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 the things we were discussing at the board meeting in December [after Flames coach Bill Peters resigned following admission to using racial slurs]. It has more to do with internal operations."

Bettman said he was not worried about the Senators' pattern of staying in the news.

"Eugene Melnyk has been an owner in good standing for 15 years at least, maybe 20," Bettman said. "Teams sometimes go through cycles, for a variety of reasons. But I am not one who overreacts or is concerned when a team's performance is less than the people of that community would like to see. I know Eugene is passionate about the game, passionate about the team. It wasn't that long ago that the team was a game away from the Stanley Cup Final. It's sports. It's really easy to criticize and second-guess, and it's harder to do."

ESPN's Emily Kaplan contributed to this report.