Eighteen of some of the best men's curling teams in the world are squaring off for a share of a $100,000 purse at the National, which gets under way Wednesday. The final is Sunday afternoon.
Howard, from Coldwater, Ont., picked up $51,500 on the weekend at the Dominion All-Star Curling Skins, with an all-star team of John Morris, Carter Rycroft and Steve Gould.
Howard will be back with his usual crew of Wayne Middaugh, Brent Laing and Craig Savill as he tries to capture his second Grand Slam event this season, after winning the Canadian Open in December.
He still trails another former world champion, Alberta skip Kevin Koe, on points in the series. Koe won the first event of the Grand Slam season, the Masters, and also placed second to Howard in the Skins, with his all-star team (including Laing) earning $38,500.
The rest of Canada's men's curling elite will be at the National as well, including former world and Olympic champions such as Kevin Martin of Alberta, Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba and Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Europe's entries include former world junior champs Peter de Cruz of Switzerland and Niklas Edin of Sweden, as well as Olympic silver medalist Thomas Ulsrud of Norway and Switzerland's Sven Michel.
The other Canadian skips are Brad Jacobs, Greg Balsdon, Mark Kean, John Epping and Rob Rumfeldt from Ontario, Mike McEwen and Rob Fowler from Manitoba, Jim Cotter from British Columbia and Steve Laycock from Saskatchewan.
The Grand Slam wraps up with the Players Championship, April 16-21 in Toronto.
Rogers Sportsnet offered a $1-million bonus this season for any team that managed to win all four events of the Grand Slam but when Koe won the first and Howard the second, that bonus, to be split between the top three teams, dropped to $100,000.
If either Howard or Koe wins the National, it would help cement their claim to first-place Grand Slam bonus money of $50,000, with the only potential threat coming from the other at the Players.