WASHINGTON DC, OCTOBER 16: Washington center Chris Brown (67) fires a 1st period goal to make the score 2- 1 at the time as the Washington Capitals plays the New Jersey Devils at the Verizon Center in Washington DC, October 16, 2014 (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post) (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

In a preseason game in Montreal, Chris Brown spotted Michael McCarron on the ice and turned toward him, putting a finger in his chest as he expressed his displeasure. Earlier, McCarron had gotten into a skirmish with winger T.J. Oshie, and Brown felt it was his responsibility to defend his Washington Capitals teammate.

McCarron and Brown dropped gloves, slinging each other around by their jerseys but landing few punches. Brown noticed pain in his right hand but thought his finger was just jammed, so he played the rest of the game.

Until that game, Brown had a good chance of making the opening night roster. But the finger was broken, requiring surgery.

Because the injury happened during training camp, Brown was stuck in hockey purgatory. He played most of last season in the minors and might’ve landed there at the start of this season, but he’s stayed in Washington during his recovery. That doesn’t sound so bad, except he’s not on the Capitals’ active roster, either.

Neil Greenberg, The Post's stats guru, breaks down the Washington Capitals' offseason roster moves and whether the team has enough to seriously contend for the Stanley Cup. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

“I’m technically not on any roster right now,” Brown said with a laugh. “I thought I had a really good camp. . . . I got hurt sticking up for a teammate. I think something Coach preaches is we’re all one, especially when some guy is messing around with Oshie. It’s team toughness.”

Brown returned to practice Tuesday morning, donning a light blue non-contact jersey. He made just five appearances in the NHL last year, so the compensation he receives while injured is a percentage of his NHL salary plus a percentage of his American Hockey League salary, both determined by the number of days he spent in each last year.

The 24-year-old cracked the Capitals’ opening-night lineup last October, played three games that month and scored one goal. Soon after his initial demotion to Washington’s AHL affiliate in Hershey, Brown got recalled for two games in November, but he eventually was reassigned for the duration of the season. His 28 points ranked eighth among Hershey forwards last season.

After practice on Tuesday, Brown said he didn’t know where he might end up. Not long after that, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said that once Brown is cleared to play, he would reassign him to Hershey.

“We talk about it all of the time,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “It’s like, ‘Soooooo, where am I?’ It’s a tough situation to be in because he wants to be here, I think he deserves to be here. I mean, he’s a great teammate and a great player as well. But, you know, things are going to happen. There is a business side of hockey.”

Brown’s mornings have been spent rehabbing with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish. Schmidt gave Brown a key to his apartment, so when Schmidt awoke from a nap on Monday night, Brown was there with his fiancee making dinner, which Schmidt called “a great surprise.” While the Capitals were in western Canada, Brown and his fiancee celebrated her birthday “for the first time in a couple years” with a trip to the zoo and dinner at Founding Farmers.

“I’m making the best of it,” Brown said.

Still trying to get his shooting touch back, Brown couldn’t score in a drill at the end of practice, so he had to fill paper cups with Gatorade and ice and serve them in the locker room on a tray. He functions as a member of the Capitals in every way except for the technical one. Brown attended his first team meeting on Tuesday morning, but with game prep involved for Wednesday’s game against Pittsburgh, Brown said he was to be seen but not heard.

Knowing the end result and the frustration that followed, would Brown get into that fight in Montreal all over again to defend Oshie?

“One hundred percent,” he said without hesitation. “It’s part of the job.”