England forward James was in inspired form as the Blues thrashed Liverpool 5-1 in their Women's Super League (WSL) fixture at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, netting a first treble for the club in a scintillating player-of-the-match display.
Those heroics saw the Lionesses star take her goal tally for the season to four as unbeaten Chelsea - hunting a fifth successive domestic title - opened up an early six-point gap at the WSL summit following seven games, with closest challengers Arsenal travelling to face Brighton on Sunday.
Afterwards James hailed long-serving boss Hayes, who will be departing the club after 12 hugely successful years next summer as she becomes the new head coach of the United States women's national team.
"Amazing and even better to do it at the Bridge," the former Arsenal and Manchester United forward told BBC Sport of her first Chelsea hat-trick.
"With the news of Emma leaving, everything I do this year is thankful to her."
A triumphant Hayes could be seen celebrating one-on-one with James after her incredible exploits against Liverpool that made it six wins in the WSL so far this term and five in a row, with Chelsea's only minor blip coming with a 1-1 draw at Manchester City last month.
They were also held to a hugely contentious 2-2 draw away at Real Madrid in their Champions League opener in midweek.
Asked what Hayes had said to her, James added: "Just how proud she is and let's achieve big things this year. I've had a difficult last week, obviously with the news and everything.
"I'm just thankful I could get the confidence back with today's performance."