OTTAWA -- Jim Little says he was fired as Chief Executive Officer of the Ottawa Senators because of a heated disagreement between him and team owner Eugene Melnyk.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Little said he and Melnyk got into an argument on Valentine's Day.

"[T]he owner and I had a personal disagreement over the approach that I had been pursuing," Little said. "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."

The Ottawa Senators said Wednesday morning Little had been fired for "conduct inconsistent" with the club and the league.

The Senators Board of Directors announced that Little had been dismissed from his duties, effective immediately, less than two months after being hired as the club's new CEO.

In a statement, the Senators said "this decision was made as a result of conduct inconsistent with the core values of the Ottawa Senators and the National Hockey League. Mr. Little's departure is effective immediately."

In his statement, Little said he wanted to clarify the language the club used regarding his dismissal, saying it was the argument with Melnyk that led to his firing.

"It was these events, to my knowledge, which led to my dismissal. Any other inference from the statement is wrong," Little said.

Little was named CEO of Senators Sports and Entertainment on Jan. 10. Little had previously worked with Shaw, the Royal Bank of Canada, Bell Canada and Bombardier.

The statement from the Senators adds "senior management has assumed the duties of the CEO and an executive search firm has already begun work on identifying appropriate candidates." 

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters at the general manager’s meetings in Florida that Little’s dismissal has more to do with “internal operations.”

A new CEO for the Senators is expected to be announced in a few weeks.

Little expressed disappointment in his statement, and offered well-wishes to the team.

"I was looking forward to helping the team and the city and the Ottawa Senators. I wish the employees, the players and coaches well. They all deserve our support," he wrote.

TSN 1200 Ian Mendes writes more about Little's dismissal on