Jim Little’s time as CEO of the Ottawa Senators lasted only eight weeks before he was fired from the position after reportedly getting into a heated argument with owner Eugene Melnyk.
Now a new reason why Little was possibly let go has come into the spotlight.
During an investigation into Little's behaviour following the exchange with Melnyk, the Senators uncovered several allegations of abusive behaviour, including public claims of domestic abuse from his ex-wife, according to the National Post.
Although Little disputed the claims through his lawyer, his former spouse, Lara Smith, published multiple accounts online, alleging he abused her during their marriage. Smith's allegations have not been proven.
“While there were signs of insecurity and controlling tendencies early in our relationship, I told myself the good far outweighed the bad,” Smith wrote in a blog published Aug. 28, 2019.
“As the weeks and months unfolded, I was the victim of extreme control, psychological and at times, physical abuse. Going to yoga class and the grocery store were cause for outbursts of rage,” Smith wrote under the sub-heading of “Never Ignore Red Flags.”
“To the world, he was a charming, successful, accomplished business tycoon with a celebrated career and a network of the most impressive friends. Privately he had a very dark side that became my daily nightmare once we began living together.”
A Senators’ spokesman confirmed that the team found the blog post and connected it to the firing of Little. After his outburst towards Melnyk, the team investigated further and found the allegations, giving the whole organization “grave concern.”
“The Ottawa Senators can confirm knowledge of the blog post, which was discovered following Mr. Little’s Feb. 14 outburst and as a result of an ensuing investigation into his behaviour, leading up to his dismissal. It was one of the issues that gave the organization grave concern,” Senators spokesman Dan Gagnier told the National Post.
Little and his lawyer are still denying the claims and will go through the courts to address the matter in the future.
“The suggestion that the Senators terminated Mr. Little’s employment because of the allegations you describe below is untrue,” Toronto lawyer Matthew Sammon told the National Post on Little’s behalf.
The Senators hired Little in early January, five months after his ex-wife published her accounts of his alleged abuse. Even though Melnyk told reporters that "an extensive search was conducted to find the right leader to guide the organization into the next decade," it appears that wasn’t necessarily the case.
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